The first “town library” started in 1924 under the auspices of the American Legion and the Town Board. The library was housed in one room of the town hall and included a few thousand books, some shelving, a desk and a chair. Miss Edna Ellis was appointed librarian.
The need for a public library in Bremen, Indiana prompted an organizational meeting on June 9, 1953. The Bremen Kiwanis Club sponsored the meeting. Plans for a library building were started here. Mrs. W.E. Walter made a donation of $15,000. Mrs. Walter purchased the lot of the present site of the library on the corner of Bike and Jackson Streets with $3,000 of the $15,000 donation. The library officially became known as the W.E. Walter Memorial Library.
In 1956, upon the agreement of the Bremen Town Board, the W.E. Walter Memorial Library Board, and upon petition of the required number of signatures, the library was established as a tax-supported entity under the 1947 Indiana Library Law as the Bremen Town and German Township Public Library.
By 1965, because of growth of the community and the need for more space in the library, the Library Board was looking to expand the facility. Opposition to the expansion delayed the addition to the library until 1972.
By March 1972 preliminary plans for a new library addition had been approved. The addition opened in November 1973. Renovation of the original building was completed in January 1974. This greatly expanded the adult and children’s departments and gave more room for patron use. Miss Gwen Berry was the librarian at the time.
The library and the community continued to grow. The need for more space and materials was very evident over the years from 1973 to 1990. Technology was becoming a new “universe” for libraries and to stay a thriving, educational entity the library had to become part of the computer information age.
In 1989 the Bremen Library Board made the decision to expand the library from the current 8,800 square feet to approximately 17,000 square feet. A Leasing Corporation was formed and a petition drive for the proposed $1.7 million expansion went into full swing.
The architect for the building project was Mr. William Koster of Koster & Associates of Cleveland, Ohio. The general contractor was Ira Mast & Son of Elkhart, Indiana. A bond issue, a first for this library, financed the project.
The addition/renovation project was completed in March 1992. It doubled the space of the library and added many new and exciting assets such as an elevator, typing room, large reading areas throughout the library, a study room, a large meeting room and space for computers for public use in both adult and children’s departments.
Since 1992 the library continues to grow, especially in the area of technology. In 1995 the library joined with St. Joseph County Public Library, Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library and Plymouth Public Library to form a circulation software cluster. Our catalog was integrated into the cluster library system, which shows materials available at all four libraries. The computerized library system allows 24/7 access to our catalog via the Internet.
In 2012, the cluster subscribed to multiple digital databases, most with remote access for patrons via the Internet. The library also joined a consortium with over twenty libraries to provide the Overdrive e-book system. In 2015 we expanded our digital offerings to include music and movies by subscribing to hoopla.
At the end of 2013, the library was serving 8,902 patrons from the city of Bremen and German Township. We had 5,400 patrons with library cards; we have over 60,000 items and 11,000 e-books with a total circulation of 90,000. Bremen Public Library was under leadership of Director Marsha Patterson from 1977-2014.
Many significant changes have transpired over the past several years. In 2020, the Northern Indiana Database Consortium was dissolved, with SJCPL, MPHPL, PPL, and Bremen Public Library, all going their separate ways. This created a necessity for BPL to seek out a new Integrated Library System for the storage of patron records and cataloging of materials. An exhaustive endeavor to make in time, training, and scale, the library currently utilizes a platform hosted by The Library Corporation.
Currently, Bremen Public Library is wrapping up its latest renovation project. Recognizing yet again that the institution needed to evolve to meet community demand, the library board and staff began laying out a plan for the newest iteration. In 2018, current Library Director Christopher Scandling hired the architectural firm of Arkos Design to spearhead the endeavor. The project consisted of selective demolition and interior renovation of the existing two-story library, a two-story addition, and site and parking improvements. After receiving approval from the Marshall County Council in March of 2021 to acquire a $2.835 million bond, bids for construction were advertised. The library trustees awarded the bid to Brown & Brown, with work beginning that July.