On March 5, 1878, the city fathers of Nashville, Illinois petitioned and were certified by George H. Harlow, the Secretary of State, to form a corporation. The name of the corporation was designated as the Nashville Library Association. The purpose for which it was formed was "to establish reading rooms and to establish and furnish a public library for its members and the citizens of Nashville." The management of the association was to consist of six directors elected annually. The following persons were selected as the directors to control and manage the association for the first year: James W. Roundtree, W. H. Carner, Jas. H. Means, Thomas H. Shepherd, James J. Anderson, and George S. Anderson.
Since the early years of this century, the people of Nashville have had a central location where they could borrow books. "Let" Allen's Reading Room was opened on September 1, 1917, Sundays only, but in 1923, the Women's Club opened a library for leisure reading in what is now the City Hall.
During President Roosevelt's New Deal, the library was taken over and run by the W.P.A. with Permelia Murphy as the librarian and Ralph Schleifer as her assistant. Together with Ferrol Hileman, the County Supervisor, they set up libraries at Beaucoup, DuBois, Ashley, Okawville, and Irvington.
In 1992, the City of Nashville purchased the building at 120 East Elm Street formerly occupied by the Veterans of Foreign Wars for $62,500. It was remodeled at a cost of $138,000 plus $46,000 for new furnishings. The move was made to the new location on October 24, 1992, with the help of Boy Scout Troop 127 and many public-spirited volunteers from the community. Due to the installation of the 911 emergency system, the address for the Nashville Public Library was changed to 219 East Elm Street.