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WPL History

Winnebago Community Historical Society

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A History of Winnebago Public Library

As we look back to the beginning years of what would eventually become our Winnebago Public Library we find many very determined and forward thinking people. On November 19, 1945 the idea of having a small library was brought to the Senior Woman's Club by Annamary DeWitt; Ruth Kasch proceeded to secure the use of the Town Hall for the library. The club voted to establish a small library on January 21, 1946. By March 4, 1946, five members formed the board for the Winnebago Community Library. Those board members were: Ruth Kasch, Connie Schmittel, Betty Haley, Ilene Middaugh and Dorothy McGee. April 2 1951-The village was approached about taking over the library: an election and 1/2 mil tax would be need. On May 14, 1951 the Club voted to close the library from June until September. Story hour for pre-school children began on October 6, 1952. April 25, 1966 – The library was disbanded. Summer 1973 - The library was opened in the town hall about 12 hours a week. Among the earliest volunteers who worked on the book drive and setting up the library were: Barb Uphouse, Jean Sloan, Shirlene Wilkins, Carol Passmore, Yvonne Bode, Peggy Pal, Lois Bruning, Frieda Kruschke, Faye Reed, Barb Peden and Barb Whitlock. The library was run by volunteers from the Woman’s Club and work days were held to get books ready to shelve. Story hour started once a week with various club volunteers, by 1975 under the direction of Karen Foltz. March 16, 1982 – The Library tax referendum passed! May 1982 – The Winnebago County Board approved the following to serve a one year term on the Library Board: Doris Buzzard, Peggy Eikstadt, Ruth Kasch, Alice Rowley, Barb Uphouse, Mary Wakeley and Lucile Wheeler. Officers were elected June 3, 1982. Peggy Eikstadt – President: Lucile Wheeler – Secretary; and Doris Buzzard- Treasurer. On October 9, 1982 the Library moved to the store front at 104 S. Benton Street owned by Bill Snyder, his former insurance office. The Library hours were extended in March 1983. The first election of the Library Board was held April 12, 1983. August 1983-Jane Fitz began work as the first paid librarian. And in November the Winnebago Public Library became a member of the Northern Illinois Library System (NILS). February 4, 1988 – Tom Wilcox and Roy Fry presented a proposal for building a new library, financed by a nonprofit corporation to be formed of interested citizens under a lease/purchase arrangement. March 2, 1988 – The board voted that Attorney Davitt enter into negotiations with the nonprofit corporation to proceed on the library building at a cost not to exceed $170.000. March 22, 1988 – Resolution that the Library Board accept the proposal of the Winnebago Library Improvement Association (WLIA) to lease or purchase from them a library building at 210 N. Elida St, on the property formerly owned by Rudy Hodges. Founders: Richard Beuth, Larry Bolhous, Roy Fry, Leland Genandt, Hazel Littlefield, Roger McDougall, Gerald Palm, Evalyn Schaap, Dale Straley, Tom Wilcox. October 6, 1988 – New building is ready; lease is drawn up; lease on storefront with Mr. Snyder is terminated. October 30, 1988 – Public ribbon cutting ceremony marked completion of the Library project. November 5, 1988 – Moved into the new building with the help from many members of the community. A Friends of the Library group was formed at about this time. January 26, 1989 – The circulation desk was installed. March 12, 1989 – Open House for the new Library building. May 2, 1991 – Dedication of Ruby Hodges Memorial Garden. Sign was constructed by Steve Miller. October 1998 – The new addition project began with the hiring of Johannes and LZT Architect. February 10, 2000 – A grant was approved by the State of Illinois in the amount of $250,000.00 for the 6,850 square foot addition. July 28, 2000 – Groundbreaking for a new addition to cost $850,000.00. January/February 2001 – A Local History Room was designed for the new addition. January 10, 2002 – Internet access for patrons. March 17, 2002 – Ribbon cutting ceremony for new addition. Through the past 68 years, with the help and support of many volunteers, staff members, and trustees, the community has a beautiful building housing the collection for the use of our library district residents. The library is blessed to have many determined and forward thinking people in our community, carrying the Winnebago Public Library into the future. Click here to see a picture of the founders of the Winnebago Public Library at our 30th Anniversary celebration.