In The Beginning...
In 1954, the newly formed Clarkston Community Women’s Club, sparked by Janet Rose, created a committee led by Phyllis Stackable to develop a community library. Books were collected and stored before a location, the small white building by the former Independence Township Hall, was secured. Ruth M. G. Shakespeare, a librarian from Detroit Public Library, initiated the first major contribution of children’s books.
This grass-roots venture was sustained by a myriad of fundraisers such as teas, card parties, fashion shows, “Birthday Calendar” sales, plus generous donations of time and money from people who recognized the value of a community library. Early millage efforts to operate the library were unsuccessful.
In 1965, the Women’s club transferred the library to the authority of Independence Township. The Library was officially established under Act 269, the School Code of 1955, making the Library a Township Department governed by the Independence Township Board. This facilitated obtaining private corporate grants, made the Library eligible for state aid and mandated the hiring of a professional librarian, Sushil Lahiri. The Women’s Club Continued their support and launched a community-wide effort toward the building of a 4000 square foot library at the current Clarkston Road location. This building was dedicated on April 12, 1969. The Clarkston Farm and Garden Club took up the continuing task of landscaping the Library grounds.
In the early 1970’s, the Clarkston Community Historical Society committed itself to furnishing the future library’s Heritage Room, a collection of local historical resources. As the community grew, the collection of books and other materials continued to expand, more library services were offered, and more staff was added.
The public’s demand for expanded library services and functions constantly increased. The Independence Township Board responded in the fall of 1988 by placing before the voters a $2,000,000 bond issue for building expansion. This won solid approval. An operating millage was passed in the summer of 1990 with the same voter enthusiasm. Ground was broken on the current library building in 1991, expanding the 4000 square foot structure to 20,000 square feet. The building was dedicated on March 15, 1992. The current Children’s department is the footprint of the previous building.
Independence Township Library is now a Class V library serving a population of 33,543. The City of the Village of Clarkston also contracts library services with this library for its 900 residents.