As late as the time of World War I, the village of Paw Paw had no library. This
was not unusual for small towns across the country, which is why Andrew Carnegie
began his program to promote the growth of libraries in the United States.
On January 25, 1917, the Paw Paw newspaper announced that Mrs. E. H. Harvey had
offered the large and well-selected private library of her late husband, the
Rev. E. H. Harvey, to be used as a nucleus for a public library if a suitable
building were erected and used for library purposes.
encouragement from community leaders, a forward-looking village council
submitted an application to the Carnegie Library Foundation Fund for an
endowment for a building. The application was sent on February 19, 1917. A
Carnegie grant of $10,000 was awarded to Paw Paw later in April 1917 (the final
year that grants were awarded).
Mrs. E. H. Harvey employed a specialist to catalog and acquire more than 1,000
books for the library. Mrs. William J. Sellick also offered to donate $3,000 for
a suitable site for the building in memory of her husband, as well as donating
his private library and $500 for upkeep. There was also support from the members
of the Coterie Club and other organizations and public-minded citizens.
Due to war conditions, building costs had risen so the village agreed to
contribute an additional $4,500 for construction costs.
The Carnegie building, located at 129 South Kalamazoo Street, was used as a
library until August, 1991, when the library operation was moved to its new site
at 609 West Michigan Avenue. The square footage of the building is three times
as great as the Carnegie building and includes space for patron parking.
2012, a new facility twice the size of the former building was erected in the
same location. The 16000 square foot building contains a larger program room to
better accommodate community events and library programs. With its brick
exterior, it was built to resemble the look of the original library in the