HCPL History

The first recorded public library service in Henry County started in October of 1954 with a bookmobile program for rural areas. Many of these first bookmobiles were donated by businessmen from Louisville and the surrounding areas and were often constructed using rebuilt army ambulances. The books were furnished by the Kentucky Library Extension Division, a state agency now known as the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives (KDLA). That first year, the Henry County Bookmobile stopped at the schools within the county and had an additional 18 stops in various communities. At that time, the bookmobile carried approximately 2000 titles.

In 1957 a temporary demonstration library was started in a store front in New Castle. The first Henry County Library opened in 1958 in a store front on Main Street in Eminence. In 1960, spurred by the worry that the county library may not be a permanent fixture, county voters passed a property tax to support a more permanent library program, the first petition of its kind undertaken by a county in Kentucky.

By July of 1961 the library had grown so much that it could no longer remain in its original location. That year it moved into the L & N Depot building, where it would remain until November of 1966, awaiting the construction and completion of the building which is still home to the library today.

By November 1966 the library moved to its former location on Eminence Terrace. It was set to have an open house in April of 1967, but a cold winter froze the pipes and flooded the building in March. This postponed the open house. The library soon housed around 40,000 volumes, an excellent reference section, a growing genealogical collection, and featured an annual arts and craft exhibit. The library also arranged for extension classes from Kentucky State University to offer the opportunity for citizens of Henry County to earn college credits.

The original building was large enough to meet the needs of the county for a some time, but by 1977 the building required remodeling the existing features and the addition of a large meeting room with kitchen facilities. In 1987, work began on yet another addition to the library. An additional 3,000 square feet of much-needed space was added. This project was completed in 1988 with the help of a construction grant from the state.

The first computer for use in the library was purchased in 1984 – a Commodore 64 with educational software and, later on, a printer. Since then, the library has updated and added computers for patrons and staff alike, converted the library catalog to an electronic database, and provided free wireless broadband Internet access. With the help of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the library also has computers for children loaded with educational games and reference software. In 2014, the library upgraded to a fiber optic internet connection to better accommodate modern computer usage and the ever-present need for more bandwidth.

In February 2020, the library moved again. It now lives at our current location, 280 East Broadway, in Eminence.  The grand opening was scheduled for March of that year, but the COVID-19 pandemic heavily impacted in-person services across the globe.  Though the library still offered curbside services through the duration, the opening ceremony was postponed to September of 2021.