Prior to the construction of the library building, the St. Charles Public Library existed in several different locations. Established by Miss Jenny Lewis in 1888, the first library opened on east Main Street in the former office of Judge Barry. For two dollars a year patrons could borrow books. This subscription library lasted for 17 years. The St. Charles Library Association was established in 1889.
In 1906, the township voted to build a public library. The Board of Directors wrote a letter to Andrew Carnegie at this time asking for financial assistance. Officials then bought land at the corner of 5th and Main Street on the east side of the city to build the new library. The classical revival structure, designed by Rogers & Woodyatt, was built largely due to the money Andrew Carnegie provided. The location of this parcel, which had served as a city refuse dump and favorite ice skating spot for east side residents, brought complaints from those living on the west end of town. With the award of the Carnegie grant, construction began on the new library in December 1906. The total cost of the building was $15,000. Carnegie gave $12,500, leaving the city to come up with the rest.
completion in December 1908, the library, which contained
over 2,000 books, had only one librarian, Miss Mary Stewart.
Miss Stewart remained the sole librarian until 1929.
the 1930s, the library saw its first expansion and improvement.
In 1933, the library gained a mezzanine and turned the basement
into a children's room. The children's room was completed
as part of a Civil Works Administration program that hired
unskilled workers to build and repair public works and public
buildings. An addition in 1964 brought all of the departments
up to the main floor. The Youth Services Department moved
downstairs in 1973, allowing for expansion of the adult
area. At this time, the original Carnegie Library came to
be used as offices and storage. A 1989 remodeling of the
oldest portions of the building returned the Carnegie Library
to public use. Today it houses business and genealogy information.
Much of the furniture found in the room is original to the
1998, after serving as storage for approximately fifty years,
the upper level of the Carnegie Building reopened. Following
restoration which began in 1996, the Carnegie Community
Room now sports replicated original decor and provides a
delightful locale for recitals, meetings, or other cultural
photographs, see these sources,
more fully described in the Bibliography.
History p 94
Public Library Vertical File
St. Charles Illinois p 118
Illinois Digital Archives - historic photos and notes from 1906-1930 Board Minutes
Minard's Hall and Judge Barry's Office
Library Study. 10 June 1983.
Michael. "Library Dedicates Expansion." St. Charles
Chronicle 14 June 1989.
Hazel. Our Community--St. Charles. 1967.
Paula. "Foundation to Revive 1908 Hall at St. Charles
Library." Kane County Chronicle 25 Sept. 1996,
Retires Card Catalog." Kane County Chronicle 10
Feb. 1993, A:3.
Fran. "Library's Historic Second Floor Receives Complete
Makeover." St. Charles Republican 30 April 1998,
Jody. "Library Room Restoration Launches Journey to Past."
Kane County Chronicle 20 Sept. 1997, A:3:1.
Ruth Ann. Reflections of St. Charles. Elgin: Brethern
Charles, Illinois. Historic Main Street Self-Guided
Walking Tour. St. Charles: St. Charles Heritage Society,
Carolyn Kott. America in the 20th Century, 1930-1939.
New York: Marshall Cavnedish, 1995.