An unidentified patron searches the Withers Public Library non-fiction card catalog in March 1940. Located on the northeast corner of East and Washington streets in downtown Bloomington, Withers served as Bloomington's public library from 1888 to 1977. With the opening of the present-day Bloomington Public Library on E. Olive St., the old library was torn down in 1978.
Back in 1940 Withers held about 50,000 volumes and boasted an annual budget of around $25,000. As way of comparison, for Fiscal Year 2014, Bloomington Public Library held nearly 300,000 items (DVDs, CDs and other formats now compete with books, magazines, newspapers, etc. for the attention of library users) with an annual operating budget of a little more than $5.2 million.