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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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