Ferndale, Mich., grew significantly during the late 1920s, gaining attention as "the fastest-growing city in the U.S.," according to Ferndale Public Library's website. In fact, Census Bureau figures in 1930 showed that in one decade, the city's population had surged 687.8 percent to 20,796.
The city's rapid growth was a result of various factors, including its key location on Woodward Avenue, known for being the world's first mile of concrete highway; Detroit's northward growth; and the region's installation of solid infrastructure. Additionally, Henry Ford offered $5 per day to workers on his assembly line in Highland Park, Mich., which attracted workers from throughout the U.S. to the region and established Ferndale as one of the first "bedroom communities," with most workers commuting out of the city.
The city's growth led to the opening of the Ferndale Public Library in November 1930. The library's initial budget was $5,000, including $1,500 for the librarian's salary and $2,000 for books; by the 1980s, the library's annual budget was $325,000 with $15,000 allotted for new materials. During the library's first year of operation, about 1,500 library cards were issued.
A Friends of the Library group was established in 1937. The group was the first of its kind in Michigan and continues to support library programs and services.
Interest in the Ferndale library reached an all-time high in 1954 when a new library was build next to the old one. The public helped move the library's collection from the old building to the new building, which was a state-of-the-art facility reflecting the latest 1950s architecture. Michigan Gov. G. Mennen Williams was the honored guest at the library's opening celebration April 25, 1954.
The library's new facility in 1954 had a 40-drawer card catalog; by 2005, the card catalog had 185 drawers. The card catalog has since been replaced by an online catalog.
In 2004, the library was established as an independent body with an elected board. It conducted public surveys to receive residents' comments and created a strategic plan to improve the library. The plan was completed in 2006 and included interior redesign, an increased budget for materials and longer hours of operation.
This Web exclusive information is a supplement to Labor on a library.