The Indiana State Library was established in 1825 shortly after the state capital was moved to Indianapolis and the building that now houses it was completed in 1934. The Indiana limestone building is the largest library in the state and contains over 2 million volumes within its walls. It features stained glass windows, oak and walnut paneling, a marble staircase, hand-painted murals and bas-relief sculptures on its exterior. The building is also home to the Indiana Historical Bureau and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.
of a state library was first mentioned in the Journal of the Constitutional Convention
in 1816 when the territorial capital was located at Corydon (It would serve as
the state capital from 1816-1825). However,
it was not formally established until the capital moved to Indianapolis in
1825. It was originally established to
assist state legislators with conducting research on various topics and space
was designated for the library in the new statehouse with the Secretary of State
serving as the first librarian.
eventually outgrew its statehouse home and plans for a new building began in
1929, the same year as the advent of the Great Depression. A 2-cent tax was levied to raise funds for
the new library, the site was purchased in 1931, and an architectural design contest
was created. This contest was won by the
firm of Pierre and Wright and their plans were completed by 1932. Construction began that same year and was
completed two years later. Their design
combined elements of both Neo-classicalism and art deco and called for a simple
and clean exterior.
the limestone exterior are numerous bas-relief figures. The smaller carvings, just above the first-floor
windows, represent the history of the state and the advance of
civilization. Included in this
collection are a Native American, pioneer, an airplane and a designer with instruments. The larger figures, along the Senate Avenue
side, represent the growth and development of the state and include an
explorer, soldier, legislator and an aspiring student. Inside the building is a soaring, 42-foot
vaulted foyer, a grand marble staircase, and a two-story circulation room that
features stained glass, murals, stencil work, and wood paneling and carvings.
library is divided into six divisions: talking books and Braille library, genealogy,
the Indiana Collection, rare books and manuscripts, reference and government
services, and library development. In addition
to the over 2 million volumes, the library also houses more than 3,500
manuscripts, 1.5 million images, and thousands of maps. Also located within the library is the
headquarters for the Indiana Historical Bureau which was established in 1915 as
the Indiana Historical Commission. It
was initially created to assist in the preparations for the state’s centennial
celebrations. It promotes the education
of Indiana’s history and places new historical markers throughout the state as
well as maintains those already situated.
It also operates a small gift and book shop within the library.