Local lore says Tom McClintock, an early settler, began an informal library in the 1840’s by sharing his books with neighbors for a modest charge. The Blue Island Historical Society says formal library service began in the 1870’s when a small storefront opened at Western and New Street to offer a small collection of books to the townspeople.
By 1890, the city had outgrown the modest facilities and meager collection, and the Current Topic Club (an earlier version of the Blue Island Women’s Club) set out to improve the library. The Club raised $6,000.00 to expand both the physical space and the materials collection.
In 1891, the Blue Island Library Association was chartered, appointed a Board of Directors and hired a librarian. A larger space was secured in the upper level of Seyfarth’s Hardware Store at Western and Grove Street. The collection grew to 1,600 books and the Library was open to the public six days each week. The City on a Hill had a real Library, until May 16th, 1896 when Blue Island’s central business district was devastated by fire. The Library was completely destroyed. Only the 84 books ‘checked out’ to Blue Islanders survived. But so valuable to the community was the public library that within a week of the fire the Library had reopened in a private home on High Street. Blue Islanders contributed books, equipment and money to keep their Library alive.
By the spring of 1897 the movement to establish a publicly-funded free public library began. Blue Islanders voted 2 to 1 to support the proposal, a new Library Board was organized and the Library moved to the vacated firehouse on the ground floor of the Village Hall. The new reading room was large, well lit, comfortable and popular. It served as the library until 1903 when Andrew Carnegie came along.
In 1903, Andrew Carnegie, the wealthy industrialist and steel magnate, was building and equipping public libraries for towns that committed land and ongoing funds for library operations. He offered such an opportunity to the city of Blue Island, and it gladly accepted his offer. The result was a Bedford Stone Italian Renaissance-style Library with mosaic floors, marble accents, and oak paneled walls on York Street. Affectionately called the “Carnegie” by Blue Islanders, and it stood until 1969 when time and wear took their toll. It was then replaced by the current prairie-style library on the same site.
Today, Blue Island’s Public Library continues to strive to provide a constantly evolving and diverse Blue Island with a full array of contemporary Library services. Currently , these include multi-language reading materials, cutting edge technology, public use computers, Wi-Fi access, public meeting rooms and a variety of events and programs.
Pursuant to Illinois law (Public Act 97-0609), a list of employees whose total salary and compensation package is $75,000 or greater is available for inspection at the Blue Island Public Library's Business Office, located at 2433 York Street, Blue Island, IL 60406. The office is open from 9 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. The phone number is 708.388.1078.
Freedom of Information requests may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Requests will receive electronic and/or digital responses.
The Blue Island Public Library Operating Budget for 2017 is $1,365,800.00.
The Blue Island Public Library currently employs 15 full-time employees and 17 part-time employees.
The library audit for fiscal year January 2015 - December 2015 is available here.