Franklin Grove Library

Lee County Illinois

It was 60 years ago when a handful of Franklin Grove women resolved to start a library in the village despite such obstacles as money, equipment and a building to house it. The first meeting of the association on record was held in the home of Mrs. Elizabeth Durkes on Nov. 17, 1916. At the meeting it was decided to accept Dr. Smith's offer to use his office as the home of the new library. By Dec. 30, the building had been cleaned, papered and painted and the first annual meeting held.

The dues for the association were 50 cents a year with each new member donating a book. The rule was followed for many years and was an effective way of gathering a stock of books. A board of managers consisting of officers and standing committees was the governing body of the association. In 1917 they wer; Miss maude Conlon, president; Mrs. Elizabeth Sunday, vice president; Miss Myrtle Hain, secretary; Mrs. Elizabeth Durkes, treasurer; Mrs. T. W. Brown, librarian; Mrs. Willis Reigle, Mrs. Alice Lott, Miss Hazel Sunday, finance committee; Mrs. Elizabeth Durkes, Mrs. Clarence Lahman, Mrs. Hannah Concon, book committee; Mrs. Nellie Stewart, Mrs. C.W. Smith and Miss Flora Wicker, building committee.

It was reported at the first annual meeting that 98 persons had joined the association and that 51 books had been donated. The major problem of the group was, of course, money. The association held markets, teas, tag days, lecture courses and suppers to raise funds. In later years they sponsored the Father and Son Banquet as its major fund-raising project. There is evidence that the community gave wholehearted support to the Library association from the very beginning. By the end of the first year, there were 150 members and 750 books collected. The library opened Jan. 3, 1917.

It was soon discovered that the association could not afford to pay a librarian, so members of the board operated the library on a volunteer basis. By 1925 the board was self-sufficient enough to hire a full-time librarian and Miss Clara Lahman assumed the position, which she served faithfully for 27 years. She retired in 1952. It was also in 1925 that the library outgrew its facility. With the consent of the village board and township supervisors, the library was moved to the Town Hall after shelves were installed.

Although it took much time and labor to keep up the library through the depression years, the library continued. In 1935 it was decided that the library should gain the financial support of the entire community and in the spring of that year, a library tax was approved.

From the Dixon Evening Telegraph Feb. 28,1976 - Heritage Edition