Library History

A Brief History


           Before the library ever opened to the public, there was the "The Reading Room." The Reading Room opened November 14, 1895. Books and furnishings were provided by a group of women who hosted the Reading Room. Dues were a $1.00 per year for membership and the Reading Room was open one day a week. Then in 1902 the trustees applied for a grant from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

​The library was built in 1904 and opened in 1905 to the public.

​           According to a letter from the secretary at Mr. Andrew Carnegie's office dated, Nov. 25th, 1903, to the Mrs. A.M. Howell, President of the Public Library, Mr. Andrew Carnegie agreed to "furnish Ten Thousand Dollars to erect a Free Public Library Building for Hillsboro," given that the city agree by "Resolution of Council to maintain a Free Public Library at cost of not less than One Thousand Dollars a year," to support the library's upkeep and maintenance yearly.

           Payments for the new building came in installments of $2,000 or $3,000 from the Home Trust Company in Hoboken New Jersey authorized by Mr. Carneige.

           Although the Hillsboro Public Library resembles the Hillsboro Academy (1837-1880), it is not to be mistaken as the same building since the library was not actually built until 1904. In fact, the Hillsboro Public Library was built by architect Paul Moratz to resemble the first intuition of Higher Learning in Hillsboro.

​           The Library was opened to the public on October 10, 1905, and remained "unchanged" until 1979 when a major remodeling took place. During this time the basement became open to the public housing a large non-fiction collection, an office for the Librarian and the genealogy department. The book lift and interior stairway were also installed at this time.

​           Our new building at 420 South Main St. was acquired in December 2016, when First Community Bank sold the building through Aumann Auctions. At that time, Roy Hertel was President of the Library Board of Trustees, and Cheryl Sale was the library director.

​           Renovation, equipment, and furnishing this building cost approximately $1.3 million, made possible by the Illinois Public Library Construction Act grant for $643,187, along with $329,000 in a savings account (Special Reserve) and generous donations form individuals, local clubs and businesses.

​           Tommy Justison of Butler purchased the former library from the Board of Trustees. He has plans for the historic building but we cannot publish them at this time.

​We would like to thank all the board of trustees including Barb Mulch (President at the time of renovations,) Tish Spelbring (Vice President and past President), Carol Naylor (Treasurer), Carolyn Meier (Secretary) Judy Albracht (Vice President, now President), Nancy Slepicka, Terry Trader, Christine Garner (newest board member replacing Barb), as well as the director, Shelley Kolb, and staff, Sue VanOstran, Nancy Merriman, Sharon Martincic and Jenny Murphy for all of their contributions during the time of renovation, packing, moving, and set up at the new building.  We would also like to give a big shout out to R.E.S.T (Retired Teachers Association) for their help packing and shelving at the new facility.

Thank you everyone for all your hard work and thank you to all the members of the community who have contributed over the years.

This would not have come to fruition without each and everyone of you! Thank you!

Built in 1904, Opened 1905

214 School Street

Our New Building:
January 3rd 2022 - Current

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