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Kewanee Public Library Chronology

1874
  • Kewanee Township votes one mill for the support of a Public Library
1875
  • Kewanee Library Assoc. organized. Constitution signed and six Directors (Trustees) elected.
  • Library opened in the newly built town hall, northwest corner of Tremont and Third, then called Library Hall.
  • John G. Blish, librarian, 262 books for circulation. Open evenings and Sunday.
  • Voters approved a two-mill tax, the maximum rate under Illinois law.
1880
  • Library moved to rooms on the second floor of the Odd Fellows Building, northwest, corner of Tremont and Seconds Streets.
  • Voters approved a two-mill tax, the maximum rate under Illinois law
1901
  • Andrew Carnegie promised $20,000 for a library building provided that the Township would provide a site and the library would maintain a minimum annual support of $2,500 per year.
1905
  • Bill introduced by N.W. Tibbets, Representative from this district passed by the General Assembly enabling Directors of Libraries to borrow money for the improvement of a library building and to purchase a site for the Library Building.
1906
  • Phillips property at Tremont and First Streets purchased for library site for $10,000.
  • An additional $5,000 for the library building was requested and received from Andrew Carnegie.
  • Funds for the construction and site totaled $55,000.
  • Plans for Patton & Miller, architects for the new library building were accepted and construction started.
1907
  • Cornerstone Laid
1907-1908
  • Library book collection reorganized by the Dewey Decimal Classification and the card catalog set up for the first time.
  • Newly completed building occupied.
  • Dedication exercises. Pierce Art Collection donated. $400 was donated by the women of the community for new children’s books. Additional funds from individuals and organizations were received to complete the second floor and for library furnishings.
1911
  • Classroom libraries established in nine Townships and six city schools.
1914-1929
  • Small branch libraries established at following business: Boss Manufacturing Company, Brandenburg Church, the Walworth Company, The Girls Club rooms, Kewanee Public Hospital, and the St. Francis Hospital.
1925
  • 50th Anniversary. Endowment Fund established with $700.
1928
  • Lay Memorial Trust established by Lay Family with $25,000.
1930
  • WPA classes in bookbinding held at Kewanee Public Library. Circulation soared in those years.
1940
  • 65th Anniversary observed.
1944
  • Edward Poole Lay Memorial Trust established by Mr. & Mrs. Frank M. Lay with $25,000.
1946
  • North Branch opened at northeast corner of Elm and Tenth Streets.
1948
  • Baker Trust Fund of $20,000 established.
1949
  • At a special election, voters in Kewanee Township increased in Tax rate to one mill, the maximum rate.
1950
  • 75th Anniversary observed.
1959
  • Wethersfield Public Library was established by referendum. The first Wethersfield Board was elected. This Board first signed a contract with Kewanee Public Library for library service, which specified that they would levy a library tax at the same rate as he Kewanee Public Library with which they would pay for this service.
1966
  • Library joins Illinois Valley Library System, a cooperative resource sharing and support network set up under Illinois library law.
1973-1974
  • Building program provides for street level entrance and elevator on Second Street to enhance accessibility. Funded in part with Federal Revenue Sharing Funds from Kewanee Township.
1975
  • 100th Anniversary observed. Special programs throughout the year.
1976-1978
  • Windows throughout the building replaced the energy saving measure. Funded with Federal Revenue Sharing Funds from Kewanee Township.
1979
  • OCLC Computer connection set up for cataloging and interlibrary loan under a grant from the Illinois
  • Valley Library System
1982
  • Contract signed with Henry County Genealogical Society to maintain their collection in library building.
  • Friends of the library organized as a support group for the library.
1987
  • New heating and air conditioning system install funded in part with energy saving grant from Illinois State Library.
  • Kewanee Public Library and Wethersfield Public Library each convert by referendum from a Township Library to District Library. Subsequently they merged into the Kewanee Public Library District with one Library District and one Library Board of Trustees, which serves as its governing authority. Voters pass a tax rate increase, the first in 40 years.
1993
  • Automated circulation system and on-line catalog set up to replace manual systems in place since the Library was founded.
1998
  • Program for the renovation and restoration of the library building begun. Frye, Gillan, and Molinario, Architects hired. Fund raising feasibility study conducted.
  • Building bond issue of $675,000 approved by voters for library restoration and renovation program. Also approved increase in library tax rate from .27 cents to .49 cents per $100 assessed valuation.
  • Library Capital Campaign Task Force formed as fund raising group for renovation project.
2000
  • 125th Anniversary observed. Jean Wilkins, Director of Illinois State Library was the guest speaker.
  • The Library moves out of the building for the renovation to the Swedman Pharmacy Building a half block north of the Library.
2001
  • The Library returns to the renovated building.
  • Library hosted an open house for the community to see the “new” Library for the first time. Jean Wilkins, Director of the Illinois State Library is the guest speaker.
2002
  • Continued renovation work on finishing the Community Room.
  • Outside exterior work began replacing stone work and cleaning.
  • New Reference Desk installed. Funded part with a mini construction grant from the Illinois State Library.
2004
  • The Staff Parking Area was concreted.
2005
  • Library yard sign completed and funded by the Friends of the Library.
  • Landscaping of the front lawn and north side of the building was completed.
2006
  • The Year of Jubilee. A year of programs building up to the final 100th Building Birthday Party.
  • Carnegie Library Building is placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • The Tree of Knowledge – stained glass window was cleaned and repaired.
  • 100th Birthday Party for the Carnegie Library Building was held on November 4th.

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