History Erie Public Library

Long ago (early 1900s), and for many years, the Erie Community Library was housed in the old Town Hall building on Main Street. It was a volunteer library, staffed by local people, administered by The Women’s Club, and Later the Rotary. Materials were donated.

There was a time when the WPA (Works Progress Administration) provided books and some staff. When the news came that the Savanna Regional Library (the WPA outlet) would close, it was obvious to all concerned that the Rotary could not continue to fund sufficiently for all projected costs of operating a community library.

In September of 1963, a “Friends of the Library” group was formed. The intent to create an autonomous taxing district. Those elected to that first group were: Mrs. Robert (Diana) Latham, Mrs. Albert (Marge) Pons, Lourde McKenna, and Gordon Bleitz. Solomon Shaheen, a local grocer, assisted in planning for the upcoming referendum.

On April 7, 1964, the Erie Public Library District was born! The referendum passed by a margin of 436 to 177.

The first Board of Trustees members were appointed by Judge John L. Poole. They were: Mrs. Robert Latham, Rev. Glenn Harms, Walter Maranville, Mrs. Robert Wolf, Gordon Bleitz, and Marvin Enright. Mrs. Worthy (Myrtle) Matthews was hired as the first official Head Librarian.

As the collection grew, the need for space sparked the planning process for a new library building. The next big hurdle, once again, became funding. The Denton-Schreiner Legion Post spearheaded the campaign and donated the property at the corner of 8th street and 8th Avenue. Volunteers went door-to-door seeking donations. Funding was also secured through State and federal grants, a Deere Foundation grant, and personal loans. Another referendum was required.

Again, in April of 1965, the voters of Erie Public Library District supported the library. Building plans could go forward.

October 1967 saw ground being broken for the new library. The library contents were moved from the Main Street location to the new building in April 1968. A dedication ceremony was held in July of 1968. There was plenty of room to grow!

Upon the 1968 resignation of Mrs. Matthews, Mrs. Larry (Laurel) Reiss was hired as Head Librarian.

In 1993, Addie Kilroy, an eccentric local farmer-woman, died leaving the Erie Public Library as her sole beneficiary. Although a relatively small estate, the money was wisely invested to become the basis of a future Building Fund.

Over a period of 32 years, the collection had once again outgrown its housing. Another referendum was needed. On April 3, 2001, for a third time, the voters of Erie Public Library District came to the rescue! Funding would be available.

New building expansion and renovation plans were formed with an Illinois State grant to be part of the funding. Failing in the competition for grant money, the Erie Public Board of Trustees needed to re-formulate. The money raised from district taxes was accumulated until new plans-plans independent of the State of Illinois-could be finalized. The new plan was more modest, but with the well invested bequest and the tax-funded mortgage, the ground at 8th Street and 8th Avenue was once again broken on April 20, 2008. The addition and renovation, which would double main floor space and add ADA compliant features, was begun.

In February of 2009, the library re-opened in new space. It stands as a home-grown product!

Erie Public Library District offers a variety of materials and services. Availible for loan are books (including adult, children, and large print), audiobooks on CD and audio cassette, and magazines. Interlibrary loan service is offered. E-books are available through a subscription service, Online Media of Northern Illinois(OMNI). Other services available include public access computers, free WI-FI, fax, and photocopy. A lower-level, elevator-accessible meeting room is available for use by District groups and programming.