Rock Island Library Celebrates 150 Years This Month
On November 25th, 1872, Rock Island citizens witnessed the opening of the community's first-ever truly free library. This month the Rock Island Public Library will be celebrating its 150-year anniversary!
All members of the community are invited to join in on the fun.
About The Celebration
There is a lot going on this month with the library!
The Rock Island Public Library kicks off a full year of anniversary celebrations with a free public party from about 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm on Thursday, November 10th on the second floor of the Downtown Library, at 401 19th Street.
Guests will also be welcomed to sign the library’s birthday banner, which will be displayed at events throughout the anniversary year, take a behind-the-scenes library tour, and meet the first librarian, Miss Ellen Gale.
Guests can also dress as their favorite book character or show their library card to receive an additional ticket for door prize drawings. Other activities at the event include opportunities for guests to pose for a picture by a professional photographer. Guests are encouraged to bring a favorite book, pick one from the library, or hold their library card. The photo sessions will be available while time allows until 5:30 pm.
Inside the Children’s Room on the Ground Floor, guests can emboss a treasure chest cutout, and add their thoughts to the “Our Library is a Treasure” column. Prizes are available for children, teens, and adults.
A commemorative library bag will be available for purchase for $6 at library service desks. Guests are also encouraged to check out items and renew or apply for a library card.
You can learn more here.
The History Behind This
Library director Angela Campbell shared more information about what this year means for Rock Island,
“The creation of the Rock Island Public Library set the stage for literacy in Rock Island. Throughout 150 years, we have continued to thrive, changing over time to meet the needs of the community. Our newest endeavor, a shared space with the Two Rivers YMCA on 30th Street, will be yet another way to keep our literacy efforts alive. Please join us in celebrating all of our accomplishments, as well as our future."
Library history will be on display at the event, and the public is also invited to bring their own items for placement in the library’s time capsule. Poems, photos, drawings, clippings, small books/trinkets, memories, and notes of the library’s past and present are all welcome. Items will be collected over the anniversary year, and placed in a 10” x 12” x 15” container for preservation in Special Collections. The library plans to mark the capsule for reopening in 25 years, at the 175th anniversary.
The citizen-led initiative to open the Rock Island Public Library began on August 12, 1872, when the private Young Men’s Literary Association generously offered its entire collection, furnishings, and the services of its librarian to the City of Rock Island.
The offer allowed Rock Island to open much earlier than other cities that had to purchase materials. Here is a quick timeline,
- March 7, 1872: Local Library Act passed, allowing municipalities to levy a tax for the operation of free public libraries.
- October 12, 1872: First public board of library trustees appointed.
- November 25, 1872: The “Rock Island Public Library & Reading Room” opens for the first time, with the first librarian, Miss Ellen Gale, in charge.
Since then so much more has happened! Congrats to the Rock Island Public Library.