Ludington Public Library

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Ludington Public Library
Established 1906

217 E. Ludington Ave

Ludington, Michigan
Coordinates 43°57′22″N 86°26′43″W / 43.956°N 86.4454°W / 43.956; -86.4454Coordinates: 43°57′22″N 86°26′43″W / 43.956°N 86.4454°W / 43.956; -86.4454
Branch of Mason County District Library
Size 65,000 volumes
Access and use
Circulation 170,000
Population served 28,800
Other information

Eric Smith

Susan Carlson - Assistant
Staff 6 full time, 12 part time

The Ludington Public Library is one of the two 'branches' of the Mason County District Library administrative system. It is located in downtown Ludington, in Mason County in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan.[1] The other 'branch' is the Scottville Public Library.

Early history[edit]

Pere Marquette Lumber Company store, later becoming the Pierce Mfg Company

The Ludington Public Library started with the Ludington Library Association on April 9, 1872.[2][3] A meeting was announced for those that were interested in organizing a library. At the time there was interest in a public reading room for the attainment of mental improvement. The meeting was held at Ludington Hall over the Pere Marquette Lumber Company store at the southwest corner of Main Street (now Gaylord Avenue) and Ludington Avenue to effect a permanent organization of a library association.[2] Articles of association were filed April 12, 1872.[2] It was brought up then at an official city meeting on the evening of April 24, 1872 at this same location at the Pere Marquette Lumber Company store (later bought by Pierce Manufacturing Company).[2][4] The organization was perfected and officers were elected in 1872 and 1874.[2][4]

On April 30, 1872 a free reading room opened for a 90-day trial.[2] A few days later a letter was received from James Ludington of Milwaukee, expressing his interest in the library idea.[2][4] In the letter was a draft for $100 to be used in the purchase of books.[2][4] S. F. White visited Milwaukee in June of that year in the interest of the library association and made a purchase of books.[4] Local citizens donated other suitable books.[2][4] By the spring of 1874 a sizable library of 300 to 400 books had been gathered.[2][4] The library association then occupied a small building that stood just south of the Pere Marquette Lumber Company's "Big Store" to be used freely by anyone.[2][3][4]

Soon thereafter various plans were considered for a new location.[4] D. L. Filer, who had always been the president, proposed on behalf of the Pere Marquette Lumber Company to donate a site on Ludington Avenue.[4] In this proposal all the lumber necessary for its construction would be provided.[2] James Ludington was to donate $2500 to the city of Ludington for building the new structure and $1,000 each from D. L. Filer and John Mason Loomis.[2][4] The new structure was to accommodate the library on the main floor with county offices, a court room, and the city council chambers upstairs.[2] This building with a library, however, was never built since James Ludington didn't come through with his donation because of financial setbacks in Milwaukee.[2] Meanwhile, instead there was a Mason County Courthouse built in 1873 on Pere Marquette Street to accommodate the city and county offices only.[2]

Nothing further was done toward plans for a new library structure and in time the matter was all but dropped.[4] The library association subsequently moved to the second floor of the Gebhart Building at the southeast corner of Ludington Avenue and Harrison Street.[2][3][4] Later in 1877 the library moved into the Temperance Hall after its new construction.[2][3][4] This was at the northeast corner of Ludington Avenue and James Street.[2][3] Between 1877 and 1881 this library association hosted lectures by guests that included Susan B. Anthony and Schuyler Colfax.[2]

On June 11, 1881, there was a major city fire and the building burned to the ground, destroying all the library contents.[3][4] There was no insurance and about $500 worth of books were lost.[4] An effort was made by Eugene Allen of the executive committee and a few others to reorganize a new library, however nothing serious came of this for over 20 years.[2][4] The Central School (later Longfellow School) shared their books with the public for many years, however this was inadequate.[3][4]

Mid history[edit]

Earnest interest to rebuild a new Ludington library was kept alive in the 1890s by a group of women that had an organization called the Pere Marquette Literary Club.[3][5] They first made contact with Andrew Carnegie around 1903 concerning obtaining funds for the construction of a new library.[5][6] At this time various people offered sites that they would sell for prices ranging from $1,000 to $1,500.[6] Some of these sites were at the corners of Harrison and Loomis as well as Rowe and Court streets and on Ludington Avenue, Emily Street, and Charles Street (now Rath).[6] There was a lot of controversy over the selection of the final library site.[7][8] The city mayor of the time, Warren A. Cartier, recommended that the matter of "petty jealousies" be worked out and that deciding on the final site location would be brought up again in a later meeting.[8]

The Pere Marquette Literary Club worked on obtaining the grant from the Carnegie Institution for construction of the new Ludington library.[3][5] Carnegie wrote back a letter saying that as soon as the city council decided on a free site and could guarantee it then funds would be appropriated.[6] On September 6, 1904, the city council had a meeting and voted to close the deal with Charles G. Wing for the 90-foot (27 m) lot at the corner of Ludington Avenue and Rowe Street, site of the former newspaper office of the Ludington Appeal. They then proceeded to complete the arrangements with Carnegie for the construction funds of $15,000 for the library.[5][9][10]

Ludington Public library

At a city meeting on February 6, 1905, the city approved the plans for a two story building that would take advantage of Carnegie's funds.[11] The building was designed by architect Edward Lippincott Tilton, who was suggested by Carnegie himself.[11] The building was to have reading rooms, cloak rooms, and a lecture room on the second floor.[11] The Ludington Carnegie library building was declared as the library that will last a thousand years.[12]

The current Ludington Public Library was constructed where the "old Appeal building" once stood.[13] The contractor builder John Anderson received the contract to build the new Carnegie library in 1905.[1] His was the lowest general contractor bid of $11,380.33 of the 6 bids received by the city of Ludington.[1] The local Ludington newspaper then reported the minutes of the city council showing that the plans for the new library and its construction had been approved.[14]

Ludington Public library
c. 1925

In 1905 Ludington received one of the 53 grants given to Michigan communities from Andrew Carnegie for the construction of libraries.[1] He had a special program that gave grants that would cover the cost of the construction of free public access libraries under certain conditions. A Carnegie Grant of $15,000.00 and matching funds from the City of Ludington was put forth to build and support the new library that exists to this day.[1]

Andrew Carnegie distributed over 40 million dollars given in grants to United States communities to erect 1,689 libraries.[1] The conditions for these new libraries were that Carnegie would provide the funds for the erection of the building, which was usually equal to about two dollars per local area resident. The local government had to then provide the construction site and an amount equal to 10 percent of the Carnegie grant annually from the city tax revenues to support the newly funded library.[1] The city of Ludington provided the construction site and agreed to $1,500 annually (10% of the construction cost) for maintenance of the building.[1] On March 1, 1906 the library opened.[15] On its opening in March 1906 the library had assembled a collection of 3,800 books.[3][5]

Later history[edit]

In 1975 a major remodeling and enlargement to the Ludington Public Library was begun. The Mason County voters passed a millage for the construction and additionally Federal revenue-sharing funds were received. Total cost of the new portion was $300,000.[1] The addition was finished and opened to the public in 1976.[16] There has been since this time Friends of the Library, a group assisting the activities of the library.[16] The Zonta Room, named for the local branch of Zonta International, includes extensive genealogical and historical research materials.

Currently the Ludington Public Library has an expansion campaign called Just Imagine where it will be adding a 7,000-square-foot (650 m2) addition.[17] This will be mostly a Children's Library, a large meeting room, and an activities area.[17] The lobby of this addition will have an area of personalized brick pavers for those that have donated to the library.[18] There will be a Wall of Recognition at the entrance for special donations to the Vision Campaign.[18] The Ludington library celebrated its centennial in March 2006.[3]

Flights of Learning sculpture of 2012

Flights of Learning sculpture[edit]

The "Flights of Learning" 800-pound, seven-and-a-half-foot-tall sculpture is at the front exterior entrance of the Ludington Public Library. The metal sculpture by Utah artist Bryce Pettit took about six months to complete. It was purchased for the downtown Ludington library by John and Anita Wilson. The sculpture came just after the opening of the new wing addition added to the back of the existing library. The new wing is called the Keith Wilson Children’s Center and is named after John Wilson's father.[19]

The metal sculpture symbolizes the mission of the library. The metal book open at the base of the statue says it all. It explains that parents and members of the community shoulder the responsibility to better the world which can be done in a child's learning. The open book represents a gateway to learning, while the birds represent the knowledge learned through the books. Once the knowledge is released it soars to new heights that enrich and enlighten our lives. The knowledge released through the "Flights of Learning" is an opportunity to new heights of freedom. The birds show different areas of learning and knowledge. The owl represents the knowledge in sciences and mathematics, the falcon represents the knowledge in history, the jay represents the knowledge in literature, the meadowlark represents the knowledge in music, the hummingbird represents the knowledge in fantasy, and the tern represents the knowledge in arts. The artist used his 11-year-old daughter as a model for the metal sculpture.[19]

The "Flights of Learning" sculpture was dedicated June 29, 2012. There were dozens of people in attendance. John and Anita Wilson were presented with a scale model of the sculpture they had donated to the library. The "Flights of Learning" sculpture at the library is a continuation of the Mason County Sculpture Trail that started with nine sculptures at Waterfront Park near downtown Ludington, Michigan.[20]

"Double the Fun" of 2014

Double the Fun sculpture[edit]

"Double the Fun" sculpture is a statute in the Mason County Sculpture Trail installed at the Ludington Public Library on August 15, 2014. The statue, created by artist Sandy Proctor, pays tribute to Sallie Peterson Ferguson. Dr. Bill Anderson, chair of the Mason County Cultural Economic Development Task Force, suggested the library as a permanent placement location for the sculpture because of Sallie’s background in teaching. It is the second statute placed at the library. It was commissioned by her surviving husband Jon Ferguson, who she was married to for 47 years. It shows her sitting on a bench reading to a boy and a girl, representing her passion for reading. Sally, a high school English teacher, was a founder of the Montessori School of Kalamazoo.[21][22]

Proctor, the sculptor artisan well known for bronze sculptures, has installed works at private and public places including corporations, libraries and Universities. He has sculptures at the Leon County Courthouse, the Florida Governor’s Mansion Children’s Park, Hackensack University Medical Center, the Living Desert Museum in California, the Boyds Collection in Pennsylvania, the Colorado National Jewish Center Hospital, and the University of Alabama in Huntsville. This is Proctor’s third creation that has been placed Ludington, the other two being at the sculpture park at Waterfront Park in downtown Ludington.[21]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Ludington Daily News, May 21, 2005, p. A6. Article "A look back at Ludington's library" by Dave Peterson
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Cabot, November 9
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Ludington Library - Century of Service". Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r HR Page 1882, section Ludington
  5. ^ a b c d e Cabot, November 16
  6. ^ a b c d The Ludington Chronicle, 9-26-1903
  7. ^ The Ludington Chronicle, 9-23-1903
  8. ^ a b The Ludington Chronicle, 9-30-1903
  9. ^ Book 12, Common Council of the City of Ludington, September 7, 1904
  10. ^ The Ludington Chronicle, 9-7-1904
  11. ^ a b c Ludington Record-Appeal, 2-9-1905, Volume XXXVIII, No. 26
  12. ^ The Ludington Chronicle, Wednesday, November 21, 1906, front page article titled "Library Will Last A Thousand Years" Ludington's new Carnegie library should, and judging from recent disclosures will, stand a thousand years. This statement will at once prove comforting to the public and gratifying to the builder, John Anderson of this city.
  13. ^ The Ludington Chronicle, 3-15-1905
  14. ^ a b The Ludington Chronicle, February 8th 1905, "Minutes of the City Council."
  15. ^ The Ludington Chronicle, Wednesday, February 28, 1906, article titled "Open to the public Thursday, March 1st."
  16. ^ a b Cabot, November 23
  17. ^ a b "Ludington Library's Just Imagine Campaign - goals". Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  18. ^ a b "Ludington Library's Just Imagine Campaign - projects". Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  19. ^ a b Ludington Daily News (MI) - Front page, Thursday, June 21, 2012; Sculpture installed in front of library - Dedication June 29.
  20. ^ Ludington Daily News (MI) - Front page, Saturday, June 30, 2012; Dedicated: Mason County Sculpture Trail launched with two works.
  21. ^ a b Alway, Rob (August 15, 2014). "Statue memorializes Sallie Ferguson, who loved reading, teaching". Mason County Press. Mason County, Michigan: Mason County Press newspaper. Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  22. ^ Braciszeski, Kevin (August 16, 2014). "'Double the fun' adds to sculpture trail". Ludington Daily News, (front page). Ludington, Michigan: Shoreline Media Group. 


  • History of Manistee, Mason, and Oceana Counties, Michigan. Chicago: H.R. Page & Co., 1882.
  • James L. Cabot (Columnist), 3 part series on the Ludington Public Library:
  1. Ludington Daily News, November 9, 1991, Public library, one of earliest institutions
  2. Ludington Daily News, November 16, 1991, New library rises from ashes of 1881 fire
  3. Ludington Daily News, November 23, 1991, Ludington library continues its growth

External links[edit]