Harrison County Public Library’s roots can be traced all the way back to 1820 when a public law library was formed for the State of Indiana at the Courthouse in Corydon. It was the first state library in Indiana. Since that time, various book lending organizations functioned in Harrison County, including the McClure Working Men’s Institute (1855-1858), the Harrison County Library (1839-1878), and the Indiana School/Township Libraries, which were small collections maintained and supervised by Township Trustees, often housed in their homes.
In December 1908, a public meeting at the Courthouse in Corydon was held to explore the feasibility of starting a community public library. As a result, a reading room was established. The next year, a new library opened on the second floor of the Luckett Building on Chestnut Street in Downtown Corydon and later on Elm Street where the present day Masonic Temple is located.
On May 4, 1914, the groundbreaking for the first-ever permanent library building in Corydon took place with significant help from the Carnegie Corporation. Georgia Stockslager Fisher, Rosamond Sample, Muriel Doolittle, Mary Rose Woods, Belle White Bruner, and Imogene Keller served as librarians from 1916-1983.
In 1983, Violet Eckart took the helm as the inaugural director. Under her tenure, many great strides were made in expanding the library’s footprint and impact. Soon after she began, the basement of the Carnegie building was remodeled and a separate children’s library was established.
In 1996, the library acquired the southern portion of the former Old Capital Bank building and renovation began in March 1997 for library use. Subsequent to these renovations, the library’s collection was installed in the new facility and extensive renovation of the Carnegie building began.
Up until this time, the library was known as Corydon Public Library, but in July 1999 the Harrison County Commissioners approved a provision that would transform the entity into a county library known as Harrison County Public Library.
In the new millennium, HCPL acquired the northern portion of the bank building and plans were made for an expansion of the library. In November 2003, the Carnegie building was rededicated as the Frederick Porter Griffin Center for Local History and Genealogy. By April 2006, renovation of the entire bank building was complete for the Corydon Branch.
Additional branches in Lanesville, Palmyra, and Elizabeth were constructed or renovated and opened in 2009, 2010, and 2012 respectively. In January 2019, Alisa Burch began her time as Library Director after working with HCPL for many years. HCPL is eager to continue the tradition of bringing resources and education to the current and future generations of Harrison Countians.