In 1920, the Algonquin Women's Club voted in favor of sponsoring a public library, to be located in the city hall council room. Donors contributed 126 books and a $600 book fund was established. Shelves were installed and the library was ready to serve the public on February 23rd, 1921. Algonquin businesses agreed to donate $1 per month in support of the new library. The library became tax supported in 1925.
The first appointed librarian was Miss Emma Taylor and the first library board members were George D. Keyes, Helen S. Rattray, Ella M. Kee, S.W. Bond, Fern Miller, and Fred Duensing. You may recognize some of these names as families who have resided in the area for many generations
The library continued to function in this quiet rural community for many years. But the 1960s brought the beginning of growth and change. In 1962 voters approved a referendum for the library to become a library district encompassing a 14 square mile area. In 1967 the library district joined the North Suburban Library System and in 1972 joined in reciprocal borrowing, thereby increasing access to books and information for our patrons. The combined population of Algonquin and Lake in the Hills had reached 6,755 residents.
The library had now functioned in the room above the city hall for fifty years and completely filled all available space. Administrative Librarian Freda Stahl jokingly speculated that the library might end up in city hall if one more book were added to the weight of the shelves! So the library began to look to the future and in December of 1973 the Algonquin Area Public Library announced plans to purchase a site on Eastgate Drive for $137,000 with a down payment of $500! This transaction was completed in April of 1974.
With the purchase of a site the library board began to discuss building plans in September of 1974. Discussions continued and on June 21, 1975, voters approved a referendum for the sale of bonds to build a new 16,000 sq.ft. library for $595,000. By 1975 the population of Algonquin and Lake in the Hills had grown to 10,000. The library owned 18,000 volumes and predicted an increase to 75,000 by 1995!
On February 25, 1976, ground was broken for the new library on Eastgate Drive and the move into the future had begun. Just 13 months after breaking ground, the Board of Trustees held an open house at the new library on March 27, 1977. The prediction of 75,000 volumes was soon exceeded! By April 2000, the library owned 101,000 books, 3,500 videos, 2,200 CDs, 2,500 books on tape, and 200 DVDs.
In November of 1998, a $7.8 million bond issue was passed for the construction of a new library facility. Click here to see a full-resolution photo of the groundbreaking ceremony on July 27, 2000. The new building is located at 2600 Harnish Drive and opened to the public on October 15, 2001. In April 2001, a tax rate increase was passed that allowed the Eastgate Drive building (closed on October 1, 2001) to be renovated and re-open as a branch library on November 17, 2002.
The library has also increased the staff over the past few years as we try to keep pace with our rapidly growing community. We offer a wide variety of interesting programs for both adults and children, including outside speakers, storytimes, and book discussion groups.