Lake Villa District Library History

LVDL Founding

1949 – Lake Villa Community Men’s Club offered to equip and maintain public library for Lake Villa.

  • The library was run by volunteers in the “easterly room (formerly known as the fire station)” in Village Hall.  Shelves were constructed of donated lumber.
  • Books were borrowed from the Illinois State Library in Springfield, rather than purchased. Eventually memorial funds were solicited in honor of the deceased in order to raise money for purchasing books.
  • Trivia: “It was decided that the keys to the library were to be kept at the drug store.”
  • The first board president was Warren Brown.

1951 - During a board meeting, Ben Cribb was charged with contacting Springfield for advice on becoming a township library.

1952 – A special election on June 24, 1952 approved the establishment and funding of a permanent library, then called the Lake Villa Township Library. “Come out and vote to improve your community by voting for a free public library and the election of six library directors,” said an advertising flyer.

  • The population voted 99 to 26 in favor of the library.
  • In 1952, the library served 3,450 people, with 625 registered patrons. The library held 2,385 items.
  • The library was open Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday afternoons, Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 7-8:30 p.m., and Saturday mornings from 10-11:30 a.m.
  • The first library director was Lois Kerr. The first library board of directors was: John Eder, Warren Brown, Gertrude Blust, Don Summers, Molly Appleby, and Howard Sherwood.
  • Trivia: An October 1952 letter from Howard Sherwood to Warren Brown on the library tax monies not yet collected: “I’ll put Don [Summers] in charge of stalling off creditors.”

1957 – The library moved to 117 Cedar Ave., the location of the former Reinebach barbershop and dry goods store. Virginia Belke Welty was appointed director.

117 Cedar Ave.

1964 - Barbara Konitzer became director.

1965 – A building fund was established because of the library’s growing space needs.

1970 – A portable classroom was added to increase space. It housed adult fiction, study tables, and the director’s office. That brought the total library square footage up to 2,300.

  • Trivia: The library was not open on Sundays and Wednesdays.

1973 – With the passing of a referendum, the library became a district library, with its own taxing powers.

1976 – LVDL left the Northern Illinois Library System, located in Rockford, and joined North Suburban Library System, located in Wheeling.

  • The library was extremely cramped for space.
  • There was no public bathroom.
  • Materials had to be stored in the staff bathroom.
  • There was only seating for 6 people.
  • There was no parking or handicapped facilities.
  • The library board president Tony Leisner said, “We are operating physically in less than one-fifth the minimum size allowed by the Illinois Library Association.”
  • The library’s rent was raised to $400 per month.

In September 1976, a referendum to build a new library on a parcel of land by the Lindenhurst Village Hall failed after the Village of Lake Villa Village Board unanimously opposed it because of its Lindenhurst location.

Also, an 11th hour mailing campaign from “Concerned Taxpayers of the Lake Villa Public Library District” urged voters to vote no because of “exorbitant cost, inaccessible location, and unsatisfactory site.”

1977 – A referendum was passed in September for a new building, a 2.4-acre site offered by John Gridley and Oliver Wilton at the intersection of Grand Avenue and Deep Lake Road. It was considered a more “neutral” location than the Lindenhurst location.

1978 – Groundbreaking began on the new site in May. The building was designed by Wendt, Cedarholm and Tippens of Winnetka.

1980 – Lake Villa District Library joins Cooperative Computer Services a consortium of 24 member libraries in the Northern Suburbs to equitably share and maintain the database for circulating, acquiring, and cataloging library materials as well as the online public access catalog.

1001 E. Grand Ave.

May 4, 1980 – The new building was dedicated. The Boy Scouts had to direct the parking for the over 200 people who attended.

  • 10,750 square feet housed over 39,000 volumes.
  • The library served 11,500 residents.
  • LVDL became computerized – very rare for the time. Books were assigned barcodes, and new books were cataloged in the computer, which was dubbed Little Flo after cataloging clerk Florence Wolfe.
  • Trivia: The library used to loan paintings, 8-track tapes, puzzles, puppets, cassette players, and film projectors.
  • Trivia: The library didn’t loan out typewriters, but patrons could bring in their own typewriters.

1984 – Barbara Konitzer retired as director, and Mary Jane Kepner was appointed.

1987 – Barbara Elmore was appointed director after Kepner moved on to another job.

1989 – A referendum was passed to increase the library’s operating fund.

1992 – The library begins Sunday hours from 1-5 p.m. Labor Day through Memorial Day.

1994 – The library added a trailer that housed administrative offices and a community room.

  • Trivia: Symphony on the Prairie featuring the Waukegan Symphony Orchestra drew over 600 people.

1996 – Voters approved a referendum for a 20,000-square-foot addition to the building and $1 million for technology and library materials.

  • Trivia: The paper card catalog was closed, replaced by the online library catalog.
  • Trivia: Pioneer Days on the Prairie was held in September. It was similar in spirit to the historical society’s Civil War reenactment as an educational event for the public.

1997 – Renovation and new addition

  • The library addition was designed by Brown Healey Stone & Sauer of Cedar Rapids, IA.
  • During the renovation, the library moved to the empty TJ Maxx store in Round Lake Beach.
  • Library received $10,500 from the Elliot W. Frank Foundation to be used for artwork in the new building. 

1998

  • Adult Services Librarian Art Gulati retired.
  • Nann Blaine Hilyard was appointed director when Barbara Elmore retired.
  • The new addition, rededicated on Sept. 13, 1998 brought the total library space up to 30,000 square feet.

1999

  • Marilyn Ward, Coordinator of Support Services, retired after twenty years of dedicated service.

2003 – The LVDL One Book One Community program started with A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck.

  • Bob Watson was appointed director.

2006 – Children’s librarian Pat Melcher retired.

2007 – The library opens on Sundays year-round 1-5pm

2008 – The library hit 1 million circulations in a year.

2009 – The library offers free Wi-Fi and expands bandwidth as mobile computing and smart phone use become more mainstream.

2010 – The library debuts circulating Video Game collection.

2011  Andy Lentine and Paul Kaplan appointed codirectors.

  • Trivia:  Andy was hired as a bookkeeper in 1984.

2013 – Board hires library planner George Lawson to work with staff to develop a Needs Assessment and Building Program Plan. 

  • Andy Lentine appointed director.

2014

  • Library updates its logo, tagline and mission statement.  Tagline: Connecting People.  Mission Statement: Lake Villa District Library enriches life in our community by connecting people with resources, services and each other.   
  • Library  Needs Assessment and Building Program Plan completed.  
  • Library Board hires StudioGC Architects to design new library building.  

Today’s Library

  • Owns 212,474 items.
  • Has 25,386 registered patrons.
  • Copies from the copy machine were 10 cents in 1980. Guess what – they’re still 10 cents today!
  • Color copies are 25 cents! 
  • You can scan documents free of charge.  Fax service $1 per page.
  • We begin planning our library of the future.