Bryan-Bennett Library was established with funds donated by Salem native William Jennings Bryan and his friend Philo Sherman Bennett. The original building (right) was erected on the grounds where Bryan was born. Construction began in 1905, and was completed in 1909.
The first librarian was May Davenport, a cousin of Mr. Bryan. In 1913, the Library was reorganized as a city library according to Illinois Library Statutes. A storm damaged the building in 1938 and it was remodeled and enlarged. Bryan-Bennett Library first became a member of the Cumberland Trail (now Shawnee) Library System in 1968. In 1985, needing more space, the library purchased the old Post Office building, which was built in 1936. After renovations, the Library moved to its present location in 1986.