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First Barrington Library Location | by Barrington Area Library Local History
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First Barrington Library Location

When a desire for the loan and exchange of books got to be frequent, Wm. J. Cammeron's drug store in what is now the east half of the Ben Franklin Variety store at 133 Park Avenue became the place to borrow a donated book. That was April 3, 1915. The Barrington Woman's Club was strongly behind this idea and boosted for books till a room on Cook Street over George Wagner's market -- formerly the Hank Abbott Drug Store -- was rented and different women of the Woman's Club took turns on certain days as librarians. Mrs. R.C. Work and Mrs. Gertrude (John) Schwemm were among the Club's committee who kept its needs and promotion ever before the public. Later the library moved to 119 E. Main Street over Ed. Rieke's confectionary store, -- now Marie's Bakery. Olive Dobson took over as librarian and did an excellent job in the work. To further this essential feature of civic welfare, several attempts were made to get permission of the voters to levy a small library tax but did not get it until April of 1924. By a vote of 670 to 285 a tax of one and one eighth mills through the village budget was allowed, and in 1926 a Library Board was elected.


Before the voting of the library tax, a stimulus to better library organization was the initial gift of $1,000.00 left by Mrs. Caroline (George) Ela who died February 28, 1914. Frank Hecht later gave $1,000.00 in memory of his mother.


In 1933 the library was housed, by the gracious permission of the Village Board, in the council chamber of the village hall. The trustees moved into a back room of the new addition.


The Woman's Club deserves credit, more perhaps than our Public offers, for the years of struggle that they put up to keep buying new books, to keep a librarian, to keep a place for the library and try to keep some one responsible for building fires and keeping the place warm and so forth. New books were added as funds could be spared. Many books were donated from Personal libraries. Good reference works and wholesome fiction has been the maintained policy of our library. The circulation, after inventory of 1956, was eleven thousand books.


The space in the village hall was too small for the book stacks alone and but little space was available there for reading and study. So, by a successful vote in November of 1953, the library board was permitted to purchase a site for a new library. A lot on South Hough Street at Monument Avenue 125 by 150 feet was purchased from Frank C. Weyer in the old Hawley pasture. One argument for this site so far from downtown was that with two-thirds of the library cards in the south half of the village this spot would be midway of the Hough Street and the Grove Avenue elementary schools. A library tax of four and a half mills in 1955 and a jubilee parade followed.


A building bond issue for $60,000.00 was authorized on June 5, 1956, by a vote of 279 to 83 and were bought by Scott, Wyandt of Chicago offering a premium of $102.60 and an interest rate of three and a quarter per cent. In September of that same year ground was broken and the building, as planned by architect Ralph Stoetzel, was under construction. Cornerstone laying was on October 14, 1956, and the building was completed in June, 1957. The beautiful building is of Williamsburg style, of one story on Hough and two story on the west with two large picture windows in the spacious base- ment reading rooms. The walls are of waxed elm throughout, with a fine office opposite the main entrance.


On July 2, 1957, the library in the old location in the village hall was closed and all was moved up the street to their new home. On July 8, it was opened to the public. A housewarming was held or Sunday, July 21, with a flag presentation by the V.F.W. It was a credit to the board and all the interested boosters who made the dream a reality. A beautiful terrace garden in memory of one of its former boosters, Mrs. Nellie Hammond, was laid at the north end of the building.

-Arnett C. Lines


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Taken on December 15, 2010