GPL Blog

From the Archives: Digitizing VHS

Thanks to some wonderful volunteers and student workers, we’ve started a project to digitize the VHS tapes in the special collections. 

The tapes include everything from old news broadcasts, high school graduations, interviews and more. Check out this one, a library presentation from 1992. See any familiar faces?

Library Presentation

If you’re interested in helping with the digitization project, or want to volunteer for other projects in the archives, contact our archivist at

From the Archives: September 2022

The first Monday in September in the United States is known as Labor Day. The day, proposed in the 1880s and officially designated a federal holiday in 1894, honors and recognizes the American labor movement and the works and contributions of laborers to the development and achievements of the United States. In celebration of the day, the library is closed, but we hope you can still enjoy some literature and history on this day. Locally born poet Carl Sandburg was a big supporter of Labor Day, and to honor that today we share a poem from Sandburg:

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From the Archives — June 2022

Here at the Galesburg Public Library Archives, we are extremely proud of our photo collection. With more than 10,000 scanned images (and thousands waiting to be digitized), we have one of the largest collections in West Central Illinois. You can find a selection of these photos on our Flickr account, where we are constantly adding new photos and working to make every one accessible. Here’s a selection of photos you can find on the page.

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From the Archives — April 2022

Some of the most frequently requested items from the archives come from our collection of Galesburg High School yearbooks. The collection includes every year from 1907-Present, and can be viewed anytime the archivist is present. Unfortunately, I can’t be here all day everyday, and sometimes people have to be turned away from viewing these mementos. However, a new project in the archives will change that.

Beginning with those oldest yearbooks, we are digitizing the tomes to make them available on our website. These can be viewed at any time, from anywhere. Take a trip down memory lane from the comfort of your own home! New editions will be available on a continual basis, with the goal of digitizing all the yearbooks that are out of copyright.

The yearbooks can be found on the How to Use the Archives page. Once opened…

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From the Archives — March 2022

As March comes to a close, we would be remiss to not highlight some notable women in Galesburg’s history to celebrate Women’s History Month. The holiday, established in 1987, seeks to honor women from all walks of life, celebrating their achievements and accomplishments. Galesburg has had its fair share of impressive women, and here we will highlight just a few of the educators, writers, and activists who have called Galesburg home.

Julia Fletcher Carney (1823-1908)

Julia Fletcher Carney was a writer, primary school educator, feminist, Universalist, and Boston-area resident. She achieved world fame for her poem “Little Things,” written in 1845. Born in Lancaster…

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From the Archives — January 2022

Winter has officially hit the ‘Burg, with all of us bracing for negative temperatures and potential snowfall. While it’s been a bit since we’ve broken any records for snowfall, I’m sure many of you remember the epic Blizzard of ‘79.

A Galesburg Post article from January 18, 1979 detailed the conditions of the record 26-inch snowfall. “The city was nearly a ghost town Saturday and most stores either didn’t open at all or closed after an hour or so.” Neither the Post or the Register-Mail were able to get papers to residents, which left most Galesburgers turning to the radio for updates on the storm. “The area’s two radio stations seemed to be the only facilities functioning normally and they were of great value in calming the nerves and telling what was and wasn’t going on.”…

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From the Archives — October 2021: Ghosts of Galesburg

It’s time once again for our annual Ghosts of Galesburg event!

If you’re not familiar, Ghosts of Galesburg is a walking tour through downtown Galesburg. We will visit significant sites in Galesburg history where a person from the city’s past will tell you about their life. The walk isn’t too long — usually less than a mile — and will include six stops. The tour will begin at the library at 6:30 PM on October 25. If you would like to attend but are unable to walk, there are limited spots on a tram available. Call us at (309) 343-6118 or email to reserve your spot!

Can’t make the event? Don’t worry, we’ll have an online version as well. Beginning October 26, a virtual version of the tour will be available on our website. You’ll be able to click…

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From the Archives — September 2021

In the last of our series on library history, we’re going to talk about the library’s current building, from its construction to today. We’ll touch on the limitations of this building and how our new facility will benefit all members of the community.

When the Carnegie Library burnt down in 1958, the library board was unsure of the best way to proceed. A temporary library was established on North Cherry Street while they decided. Some members of the community advocated for rebuilding the Carnegie Library in its original form, but this idea was ultimately scrapped because the design of the building would be limited and it would be more costly than building a new library.

In December of 1959, the board decided to use the $240,000 of insurance money received…

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From the Archives — August 2021

Last month, we learned all about the earliest iterations of the Galesburg Public Library, from the Young Men’s Literary Society to the first building at 221 E. Main Street. This month, we’ll learn about the next phase in our library’s story: The Carnegie Era.

As the city grew in the late 19th century, the library quickly outgrew the building on Main Street. Beginning in 1883, businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie donated money to cities all over the world to build public libraries. In 1901, Carnegie offered Galesburg $50,000 to build a new library, as long as the city agreed to maintain it. An additional $12,500 was raised via tax levy, and library construction began.

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From the Archives — July 2021

As we continue planning and preparing for the new Galesburg Public Library building, we’re also looking back to the library’s history in Galesburg and how we’ve served the community for more than 150 years.

In 1858, Knox professor (and later acting president) Albert Hurd donated a collection of books to form the Young Men’s Literary Society. The collection was housed in the public high school until the city passed an ordinance in 1874 and a free public library was created. The same year, the first library board was established. Nine men were appointed to help build and maintain the library. The next year, the first librarian, Mrs. F.A. Smith, was hired. …

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