The Library offers its full services to all residents of Hamtramck. In addition to our collection of 70,000 books, the library offers a large selection of multimedia. We’re also a member of The Library Network, a public library cooperative serving 65 libraries in southeast Michigan.
The Hamtramck Public Library is located in Hamtramck, Michigan. Our community is very diverse in terms of nationality, culture and religion. We have a large collection of foreign language books and magazines…
The Hamtramck Public Library was founded by the Tau Beta Association in November, 1918, as a private community house library with less than 150 books. The Head Resident of the Tau Beta Community House and the Executive Board of the Tau Beta Association acted as a Library Board and were in actual or virtual control up to November, 1938. Miss Isabella McRae was the first Librarian. The first library opened in one room “The Flat” on Hanley Avenue, then the first Hamtramck Community House. Although privately sponsored and operated, the library was available to all Hamtramckans.
Over the next twenty years the library was constantly relocated to larger facilities to accommodate the continuous growth of the library collection and services offered. The library was moved from the single room to a store building at Clay and Campau Avenues, loaned by the Dodge Brothers; and then again into the Tau Beta Community House at 3055 Hanley Avenue. The library was supported by public funds from the Board of Education (1922-1924) and the City of Hamtramck (1924-1938). Miss McRae remained librarian through 1936, when she resigned and was succeeded by Miss Ruth Miller.
A citizen’s board appointed in 1938 was aware of the library’s inadequate facilities and recommended to the common council to move the library to a larger building closer to the heart of the city. On November 14, 1938 the library officially opened its doors in its newest location, the second floor of a professional building, at Campau and Caniff. After 10 years of service, Ms. Miller resigned in 1946, and Beatrice Kobe, assistant to the librarian, became Acting Librarian for the next three years.
During these three years two important events occurred; due to the arrival of many Polish refugees during the post-war years, a collection of about 1900 books, magazines and newspapers in the Polish language, both adult and juvenile, were added to the library. The library also opened its first small branch for children in the Tau Beta Community house with a rotating collection of 850 books.
In July of 1949 Stanley J. Tanner was appointed the head librarian, and embarked on a series of new projects to increase services in the field of adult education and youth services. In 1951 the City Hall Branch Library was opened, in the east wing of the first floor Municipal building. The City Hall Branch housed some 6500 books and 15 magazines. The City Hall branch was officially dedicated on January 22, 1952.
Stanley Tanner resigned in 1953, and Bea Adamski was acting librarian again. In 1955 Herbert F. Mutscheler was named librarian. Groundbreaking ceremonies for the current library building were held on July 5, 1955 and construction was completed May 31, 1956. On July 1, 1956 the formal dedication ceremonies were held. The new structure was 133 feet long, 85 feet wide, and covered an area of 10,500 square feet. Its book capacity was approximately 50,000. The library was also equipped with a special 47′ x 24′ auditorium designed to serve as a community meeting room.
Today the facility at Caniff and Brombach is the only location of the Hamtramck Public Library. It still has the original furnishing and shelving, parking for twenty-two cars and it is very actively used.
In the summer of 2002, the library underwent major renovations replacing all the windows, lights and the heating system. In 2003, the residents of Hamtramck approved a library millage making their library independent of city finances.
Under the leadership of the Library Director, E. Tamara Sochacka, the library has developed a computer lab, subscribed to broad band internet access for library patrons, established access to electronic library, begun multi-lingual collection of books, set up collection of digital photos, documentary video production, English as a Second Language classes, shows children’s movies, offers after school tutoring, Math Kangaroo competitions, poetry programs, talent programs, meetings with authors and many more services that the library was not able to offer during previous administrations.
Thanks to the Friends of the Library and many library volunteers the library became a vibrant institution with plans for future expansion to accommodate the needs of our city’s growing population.
Big thanks to Mr. Arthur Wagner for translating and donating to the Hamtramck Public Library a journal of his father, Hipolit C. Wagner, translated from Polish and published as memoirs. Hipolit Wagner lived in Hamtramck from the early 1920s until 1945. He was a member of various local societies and organizations, including several Polish Veterans Groups. His journal dates back to 1912 and covers his immigration to America, enlisting in the Polish Army (Haller’s Army) in 1918, and the World War II years.
Translated by Arthur Wagner from the original Polish manuscript, and provided with additional background information, it was just published as My Journey in the World: The Memoir of Hipolit C. Wagner 1912-1919 Immigration to World War I. It is an elegant, beautifully written and edited book. It includes a timeline, a facsimile of the original manuscript, many photos from family albums, and poems and letters to Hipolit’s parents he sent during Army service.
Great resource for the local historical Collection!