Barrett Memorial Library History Center

I am reposting this blog because the time is drawing near for the Library Board to make their decision concerning the empty Barrett Memorial LIbrary building.  Next Tuesday, October 8th the Board meets at 5:30 pm at the Petersburg Library Branch.  If they are going to keep this building standing and not tear it down, please let the Genealogical Society have a chance to make it work.  At least they have an opportunity to provide some income with their services.  If we give it to the County Commissioners it will  become one more building for the taxpayers to maintain with no source of income.  Then our records will go to the basements of several organizations in Indianapolis and not be available to the people of Pike County and the researchers coming to Pike County looking for their ancestors.   Genealogy is becoming more and more popular.  It would be a shame for Pike County to go in reverse instead of moving forward with the top notch Genealogical and Historical Societies they now have.

These are our Board Members.  Please send the library an email or give them a call showing your support of the project or stop in and sign the petition.  Also contact the Commissioners,  the County Council  and the School Board who appoint these members.

Donna Poehlin   Appointed by County Commissioners.

Phillip Elkins, Board President     Appointed by County Commissioners

Anisia Burkhart  Appointed by School Board

M. Frank Ropp   Appointed by County Commissioners

James Dickerson  Appointed by County Council

Sandra Ficklin  Appointed by School Board

Robin Whaley  Appointed by County Council.

Original Blog Post with contact information:

If you have been reading my blogs you will know there are two subjects near and dear to my heart, genealogy and history.

Keeping the old Barrett Memorial Library as a History Center combining the Historical Society and the Genealogical Society under one roof should be near and dear to all of us who care about the genealogy and history of Pike County.  The artifacts currently held and future donated artifacts to the Pike County Museum would also be displayed and available for viewing at this History Center.  I would be one of the first to volunteer my time to work there.

I just found out several weeks ago that this project was being brought forward again.  So I attended the Library Board Meeting last Tuesday to show my support.  I did not know this had been an ongoing subject the last few meetings and that the decision was nearly made to not go forward with the project.  Luckily for us, it was tabled until next month’s meeting on October the 8th at 5:30 pm.  These are my observations.

The only objection I thought the board had was  the cost or potential costs for the project.  They all seem to agree the history of Pike County was important.  A feasibility study had been done and it seemed to me that it was entirely possible for the library to fund the project.  Our library is in good financial shape.  Our new director is a recent IU grad and is doing many good things there that are bringing in patrons for new programs. The library is only moving forward, and that includes financially.   Although this wasn’t in the budget and the board is responsible for managing our money as taxpayers, as a taxpayer I can see no reason for the project not to go forward.

If we lose the history of our county, we can never get it back.

The Historical Society records and all of the artifacts housed in the dilapidated building that is the Pike County Museum would be donated to the library.  It is rarely open.  The Historical Society would then be under the library’s authority.  There would be set hours weekly for visiting, including a Saturday for out of town visitors.  If they are not donated to our County library, they will be donated to Indianapolis where they will be put in storage and unavailable to you as an individual to view.  You can ask to see them there and will be told they are unavailable to you.  The same goes for the courthouse record books that will be sent there.  Those books go back to the very early 1800s and will be unavailable to us.

Remember a few years ago the school researched and published a book “The Coal Miner’s Cry”?  What a great research tool and interesting reading that book has been.  I could see many class projects in the future if the records are available here in Pike County for the use of our Pike County citizens.  The kids could learn the skills of digitalizing records.  Write stories.  Do research.  Take the history and records away and that will never happen for our future generations.

I could go on all day.  Here is a link to the feasiblity study.

As you can see, it is doable.  Let’s open it for three years and see if it is financially stable.  If not, then we can always send the records and artifacts to be stored in Indianapolis.  We can always give the building to the county or city at that time.  We can always tear it down at that time.  It’s sat empty for a few years now and cost us more to keep it closed than it would have to open it as a History Center.  What would it harm to keep it a few more years to preserve history?  As a taxpayer, I say give it a chance.

If you know any of the library board members, you can express your support for the history center before next weeks meeting where they decide it’s fate. Phil Elkins, Donna Poehlin, Robin Whaley, Jim Dickerson, Anisia Burkhart, Sandra Ficklin, Frank Ropp.  

To show your support you can, send an email to or call 812 -354-6257 and it will be passed on.

You can even offer to donate artifacts you have and pledge financial donations.

Take this poll and the results will be passed on.  The poll is set up so that no one votes twice.

As always, you can comment below on my blog post.  I am looking forward to the future.  I hope you are too.

The current Pike County Library Mission Statement:  “The Pike County Library exists to provide information and services to people of all ages of Pike County for the purposes of recreational reading, education, reference, and the collection & preservation of history.”


2 comments on “Barrett Memorial Library History Center

  1. Mary E Morgan says:

    I live out of the state of Indiana and believe that it would be wonderful to have all the records to be housed in one place. I have tried several times to obtain permission to see the records in the Historical Society building to no avail. I also have heard that the library does not have the room to house all the genealogy items where it is available to the public. I make the trip to Petersburg several times a year and am a charter member of the Pike County Genealogy Society. The space that the library has allotted to genealogy is rather cramped.

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