Ann Arbor’s Carnegie Library, serving both the high school and the general public, opened in 1907. It was the only library donated by Andrew Carnegie that was attached to another building. Earlier, in 1866, thirty-five women had put in three dollars each to start the Ladies’ Library Association and pledged a dollar a year to purchase books for the public to borrow. As the collection grew, they constructed their own building in 1885. Books in the high school were always available to the public. In 1883 they were moved from the superintendent’s office to a second floor room. Twenty- three-year-old Nellie Loving was hired as librarian.
In 1904 the school board and the city council were awarded $30,000 of Carnegie funds to build a public library. The grant came just in time on the last night of the year, the high school burned down. Nellie Loving, who lived only a block away, joined hundreds of students and teachers to save more than 8,000 books. Many were moved to the old Methodist Church across State Street while the new school and attached library were built.
Nellie Loving set up a course to teach students how to use the library and in 1910 started the children’s department. In 1916 the Ladies’ Library donated all of its 4,600 books to the public library. Loving retired in 1922. High school books were later moved to the third floor, with the public library below.
In the 1950s, after UM purchased the property, the Board of Education erected a new public library on Fifth Avenue at William Street and a new high school on Stadium Boulevard.