The Harbor Springs Library dates back to 1894 when the Harbor Springs “Republican” called for a meeting to be held to discuss the feasibility of starting a free reading room in Harbor Springs. This idea originated with Mrs. George H. Smith of Detroit, who was a summer resident of Harbor Point. She was assisted in the movement by Mr. Hacket of Fort Wayne, a resident of Wequetonsing, and the Rev. R. J. Rainey, the pastor of the Presbyterian Church in the village.
There were two subsequent meetings, both proving to be most promising. The founding group called themselves the Harbor Springs Christian Association. They solicited funds and purchased a small store building which stood near the corner, on the site of the present building. Furnishings, reading materials, and games were donated, and Miss Etta Carpenter was left in charge as the librarian.
By 1898, the collection had grown to over 200 books, and it nearly doubled again the following year. In 1900, the people in the village instituted “Library Day”, where they gathered together on behalf of the library for entertainment, bringing their donations of books and money, a tradition that carried on for many years to follow.
In 1904 the reading room had grown to such dimensions that the HSCA incorporated as a library under the laws of Michigan. In November of 1904, The Association purchased the post-office property, on which the present building stands. In 1905, Mr. E. H. Mead of Harbor Springs prepared the plans for a new building. Ground was not broken until 1906, and the building was completed in 1908, when it was formally dedicated.
The Harbor Springs Library has remained in this building for over a century, sustained solely by donations and the rents received for leasing the lower level of the building. Very little has changed in the building itself. In the Spring of 2011, the Library building was renovated, restoring much of the building’s natural beauty. The Library has changed in other ways as well. We now offer WiFi internet access and public access computers and we are reaching out to the community with new and innovative programs, all while working to maintain what people have loved about this library for 125 years.