East Washington Library: Creating a 21st Century Space in a Century-Old Building

by Doriene Smither,
East Washington Branch Manger

This past year has been an exciting and eventful one for the East Washington Branch of The Indianapolis Public Library, located at 2822 E. Washington Street, which had been closed for remodeling. The entire staff is now excited to be back into the expanded and improved building, especially since we spent time either scattered to other branches or providing limited services in a small nearby construction trailer.
Our neighbors are thrilled, too. The East Washington Branch opened in 1911, without as much as a phone. Now we have 18 public computers, two quiet study rooms and an elevator. There will be no more huffing and puffing mothers pulling their baby strollers up the steps, although those steps leading to the front entrance have been preserved. In fact, much of the beautiful woodwork and other historic features have been protected because it was important to the neighborhood, and because the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016. Some beautiful exterior windows were saved and turned into an interior office wall. And the famous book gnomes still watch over the building.
When a century-old building is remodeled, there is ample room for discovery and rediscovery. For example, some of the original tin ceiling remained in the community room downstairs. It was not salvageable, but it has been replicated. Windows in that same room were rediscovered and opened up, letting natural light into a space that is now much more inviting. We look forward to welcoming neighborhood groups back to that space.
We invite you to come in and reacquaint yourself with the building and the staff. We are now open during regular hours and would love to show you around! Mark your calendar to attend our Grand Reopening Celebration on Saturday, March 18 from 2 – 4 p.m. and enjoy activities for all ages, including a presentation on this historic Carnegie Library.