New Athens Public Library was established as a village library on April 16, 1963 in a regular village election. On the ballot was the proposal to establish a tax support base and the election of a six member library board of directors whose responsibility it would be to set up and operate the library for the Village of New Athens, Illinois.
In 1977, the effort to create a township library to serve the large township area was placed on the ballot and approved by the voters. The village library board was dissolved in favor of the township and the transfer from a village to a township library was accomplished. As the 10 year lease for renting the library quarters approached the time to renegotiate the lease or consider other options, the State Bank of New Athens was building and relocating their business so the former bank building (directly across Chester on Van Buren Street) was for sale. A loan and terms for purchase of the building as well as remodeling and roof repair were agreed upon April 14, 1978 and in September 1978 the library moved into its own building. These were two major steps in the growth of the library - from Village to Township Library and to owning a building.
March 4, 1987 the Library Board voted unanimously to pass a resolution to convert from a Township to a District Library. The name of the library was changed to New Athens District Library.