From the beginning, the Lake Villa District Library has contributed to our community with comprehensive collections and innovative programs. In turn, the people of our district have supported their library as taxpayers, library users, Friends, volunteers and Trustees.
In August 1949, the Lake Villa Community Men's Club offered to equip and maintain a public library for village residents at no cost to the village. The east room on the first floor of the Lake Villa Village Hall was used as a library for five years. The Men's Club provided books, heat and janitorial services. Volunteers operated the library until 1953.
In a special election in 1952, the community voted 99 to 52 to create a tax-supported township library. The operating budget for the first full year was $3,000. Lois Kerr worked as the librarian for 20 hours per week at a salary of $1.25 per hour.
The library moved to 117 Cedar Avenue in downtown Lake Villa in 1957. Virginia Belke Welty served as librarian until 1964, when Barbara Konitzer was hired. At this time, the library was open 30 hours per week.
During Mrs. Konitzer's tenure, the library grew in collections, staffing and services. A building fund was created in 1965. By 1970 the store front facility was so crowded that a portable classroom was added to house the adult fiction collection, audiovisual materials, study tables and the librarian's office.
By 1973 the township's citizens voted 542 to 210 to change from a township to a district library. The Lake Villa District Library joined the North Suburban Library System in 1976.
The need for a larger facility was evident. From December 1968 to July 1976, the library board considered nine different sites for a permanent library. A referendum on the ballot in September 1976 was defeated. An alternate site, including parcels from John Gridley and Oliver Wilton on Grand Avenue at Deep Lake Road, was considered. The Friends of the Library organized to gain citizen support for a second referendum in September 1977. This initiative was a success.
The new library was dedicated on May 4, 1980. The building had 10,800 square feet and included a public meeting room. The collection boasted 29,000 items, including books and audiovisual materials. Annual circulation was 88,000; the budget was $103,000. There were eight employees. Materials were checked out by computer, which was very innovative at the time.
Mrs. Konitzer retired in 1984. Mary Jane Kepner succeeded her; she served until 1987. Barbara Elmore then was appointed Library Director. Under Mrs. Elmore, library use and support grew significantly.
In April 1989, a referendum to increase the tax rate was defeated, forcing the library to reduce hours and slash the materials budget by half. That November, however, voters approved the tax levy increase. Hours were restored and purchasing reinvigorated. By 1993 the library owned 74,000 items; annual circulation was 292,000; there were 20 staff members; and the annual budget was $926,000.
In 1990, the library board commissioned a space needs study, and in 1991, the approved the first design for an addition to the building. In April 1993, voters defeated a $6.5 million referendum for a 30,000 square foot addition, 1965 to 2928 votes. To ease the space crunch, administrative offices and the meeting room moved to a double-wide trailer.
In April 1996, by a vote of 3,495 to 2,224, voters approved $3.75 million for a 20,000 square foot addition to the building and $1 million for technology and library materials. Ground was broken for the addition on June 24, 1997. During the year-long construction project, the library operated from a former T.J. Maxx store at the Round Lake Commons Shopping Center.
Mrs. Elmore retired on March 20, 1998. The Board of Trustees appointed Nann Blaine Hilyard as director on March 23. The new library was dedicated on September 13, 1998.
Bob Watson was appointed director in October 2003. He previously had served the Franklin Park Public Library for 21 years.
In 2005, LVDL had an operating budget of $3.7 million. Annual circulation was 863,000 items, and included books, movies, magazines, music, audio books and software.
LVDL is proud of our technological advancements. We now offer free wireless access and downloadable audio books. Computer terminals with Internet access are used over 2,800 times per month.
Though our facility has changed and the array of formats has expanded, LVDL continues to provide personal, efficient and friendly services so that people can access the information they need to enrich, enlighten and enjoy their lives.