The Carterville women's Club started the first library in Carterville about 1916 in the back room of the Carterville State and Savings Bank, entering on East Illinois Avenue. In July 1937, there was a library that was moved to the top floor of the South Side School.
In the winter of 1949, a group of Business and Professional Women members met at the home of Reba Ridley to plan the opening of a library for the city of Carterville. Reba Ridley was instrumental in organizing the Carterville Business, Professional women's club and served as the first president. It was her dream that a library be the chief project for B.P.W.
On May 5, 1950, Reba's dream became a reality when the Carterville B.P.W. Club held an open house celebrating the opening of the B.P.W. Library, which was located in two small rooms in City Hall. Over 3,000 books were donated to the library and Helen Peach and Mamie walker served as the first volunteer librarians. Approximately 300 people attended the library open house which was held in conjunction with an art exhibit and hobby show.
In 1956, the business and professional women's club was asked to vacate the two rooms in the city hall and on a Sunday afternoon the books and equipment were moved to the American legion home on north division street. Ruth Washburn, a charter member of B.P.W., drove the city fire truck to help move the library, along with several other members driving their personal cars loaded with books and files. Hazel Arnold, who was the librarian at this time, had the tremendous job of organizing and shelving the books at the new location.
In May 1964, Canvas Scoby succeeded Hazel Arnold as the B.P.W. Librarian and on June 1, 1965, the Carterville City Council, with Frank Samuel, Jr. as mayor established the Carterville Public Library as a tax supported city library.
In April, 1966, the Carterville Public Library was approved to become a part of the state library system, which was accomplished through the cooperation of Margaret Joy, a past president of B.P.W. club, working with Mayor Frank Samuel and others. The club again sponsored an open house and tea for the Carterville Public Library whereby the B.P.W. club turned over their jurisdiction of the Library to the City, as the library had reached the goal for which it was organized. The library board asked Cavanas Scoby to become a full-time librarian and she served in this capacity until October, 1975, at which time Willa Strothman was hired as Librarian.
In July, 1966, during the time that Cavanas Scoby was the librarian, the Carterville Public Library became a Charter member of the Shawnee Library System. This system provides unique services to the libraries in Southern Illinois which include interlibrary loans, special services to the blind and handicapped, reference assistance, and cassette tapes just to mention a few.
On April 19, 1969, the library was moved back to the City hall where it had first begun twenty years before. Early in 1981, the library was moved again and on March 22, 1981, a dedication ceremony was held at the Carterville Public Library's present location, the former civic center, at 117 south Division.