More than a depository for books and information, the Library plays an important role in shaping the community’s narrative. The Library encourages all to learn, grow and share through essential programs and services and engaging events. Tax dollars fund the Library’s primary operations including Library staffing, collection materials, and facility and technology maintenance. The majority of the Library’s programs are possible because of support from Friends of the Library, corporate sponsors and philanthropic partners. Read on for more about Foundation-funded programs that encourage lifelong learning.

Digital Encyclopedia of Indianapolis


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The digital Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, or dEOI, is a web-based knowledge platform built as a legacy project of the 2021 Indianapolis Bicentennial Commission. This dynamic reimagining and expansion of The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis by David Bodenhamer and Robert G. Barrows (1994) covers many topics, including business, philanthropy, built and natural environment, health and life sciences, arts and culture, education, religion, sports and more. It spotlights a vibrant, prosperous and innovative city and region. Scheduled to launch in fall-2021, it will include:

  • 1,600 updated articles from the 1994 print edition
  • 300 new entries for the period since 1994
  • Interactive timelines, maps and atlases
  • Topical or subject-focused features
  • Neighborhood profiles and histories

If you are interested in supporting the dEOI project, please click here.

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Children’s Fund

Summer Reading Program

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The Library’s annual eight-week Summer Reading Program motivates thousands of children to increase the time they spend reading. It is offered free of charge at all branches, Central Library and over 100 youth-serving agencies through bookmobile service. Auxiliary activities, such as live animal shows, art workshops, concerts and science activities, provide further opportunities for learning, discovery and community engagement.

Reading Ready

Launched in 2009, Reading Ready (formerly Ready to Read) is the Library’s early childhood literacy initiative. Special focus is paid in this initiative to reaching children most at-risk.

On the Road to Reading

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The Library makes monthly visits to over 160 childcare classrooms in low- to moderate-income areas, sharing story programs, delivering bags full of age-appropriate books and providing themed kindergarten-readiness kits and resources to parents and providers.

Preschool Programs

The Library offers a series of fun, educational workshops covering topics like music, art, wellness, science and math throughout Central Library and the branches.

Early Childhood Conference

The Library hosts quarterly, accredited professional development programs for 600 childcare providers and education students, featuring nationally-known keynote speakers.

Reach Out and Read

Reach Out and Read (ROAR) is an event filled with activities and opportunities for families to engage with their children and encourage reading aloud. To make the event as inclusive as possible, all publicity and programming is bilingual.

1,000 Books by Kindergarten

Caregivers can register for this program at their nearest branch and receive a book tracking sheet. Rewards will be given as tracking sheets are completed at 250 books, 500 books and 1,000 books read at home.

Curveside Ride

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Teachers who wish to bring their students to the Learning Curve @ Central Library for digital and traditional literacy activities will be offered a $100 transportation subsidy through the Curveside Ride program.

Young Adult Author Visits

Authors of books for teens will be brought in to speak at Library locations to help draw teens and their families to the Library.

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​Marion County Internet Library

Through funding from the Library Foundation, the Library makes a collection of commercial databases available to academic, public and school libraries in Marion County and provides database training for librarians.

​Digital Collections

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As Indianapolis approaches its bicentennial, the Library will preserve and share history through a city-wide digitization project and has set the goal of establishing 1,000 new digital collections by 2020. Digital projects already underway include the Lawrence J. Downey Library History Collection, the records of local art organizations, the Meridian-Kessler Neighborhood Association, the Library’s African-American History Committee and more.

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Cultural & Community Fund

The Center for Black Literature & Culture

The Center for Black Literature & Culture, housed in Central Library, is dedicated to celebrating the vibrancy of Black heritage and history. It offers a space for events and community gatherings and offers a special collection featuring works by and about Black figures. The creation of the Center for Black Literature & Culture is made possible thanks to a generous grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.

​Marian McFadden Memorial Lecture

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The Library hosts an annual free lecture by an accomplished, high-profile author, open to the greater community. Past McFadden speakers have included Junot Díaz, Eric Carle, Khaled Hosseini, Neil Gaiman, David McCullough, Ann Patchett and Jeff Kinney. Approximately 1,000 people attend each year.

​Meet the Artist Gala and First Friday Event

The annual Meet the Artists Gala kicks off a two-month-long exhibit of works by local African-American artists at Central Library. The gala features live musical entertainment, a fashion show, poetry readings and more. The exhibit typically is held from late January through March annually.

Adult Summer Reading Program

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To encourage adults’ love of recreational reading, the Library established an Adult Summer Reading Program (SRP) in 2014. Adult SRP book discussions are held at Library locations as well as at community locations such as Hubbard & Cravens or Sun King Brewery.

Classical Concerts at Central

Approximately 10 times per year, IndyPL brings in ensembles of previous and current Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra members to perform in the Clowes Auditorium at Central Library.

​Fall Fest

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Held every November at Central Library, Fall Fest features a lecture by a celebrity author and other performances by local African-American musicians, poets, dancers and more. In addition, winners of the teen Slammin’ Rhymes Poetry contest perform their works.

​World Language Book Giveaways

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The Library gives away free books to children and adults who attend fairs, festivals and school events. Books are in Spanish and other languages spoken by local immigrants.

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Lifelong Learning Fund

Spanish Language Computer Classes

The Library will present a series of computer classes taught in Spanish at Central Library and the Haughville Branch Library.

​Nonprofit Seminars at Central Library

These seminars provide affordable information for nonprofits to survive and thrive. The seminars give information to those wanting to start new nonprofit organizations and are a unique educational experience to students of the nonprofit sector.

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