The original library in the village of Clifton was founded in 1903. It was staffed by Miss Mamie Sanderson and was disbanded in the early 1960s. The books, with the exception of a few rare editions which still remain the present facility, were all given away. Even the building, which was located along Main Street, a bit south of where the Unit 4 Bus Garage is now located, was razed.
The library was opened with 32 volunteers working twice during an eight-hour period. They checked out books, magazines, and records, and kept the facility clean.
In March 1976, the first exhibit was presented. It featured decorative eggs created by Bertha Haley, Norma Meier, Mona Rasmussen, Donna Ross, and other local artists.
New books continued to be added and the First National Bank of Clifton donated 16 magazine subscriptions.
In August 1976, the library acquired a sculpture by local artist R. J. O'Connor, made from antique tools and scrap iron, and donated by the family members who were descended from 20 early settlers in the Clifton area.
Also during the summer of 1976, a story hour for pre-school children was held and a local history collection was established. A federal program made it possible to hire two librarians for the summer, Mrs. Rushing and Mr. Hyde. The library was open every afternoon, Monday through Saturday. In the fall the library returned to its volunteer status and the hours were shortened.
In the fall of 1977, the Library Board asked the Clifton Village Board if they would consider hiring a part-time librarian to replace the volunteer program. The village board granted their request, and Mrs. Lynn Lohnes of Ashkum, Illinois was hired to work for two days and one evening per week.
Mrs. Lohnes remained in that position until August of 1980 when she and her husband, Rev. Paul Lohnes, moved from the area. It was then that Ms. Gayle Clair of Clifton was hired.
The Clifton Public Library became a developmental member of Lincoln Trails Library System in 1996. In January 1997, the hours were expanded to 28 per week, and Ms. Dolores Stemke, Clifton, joined the staff.