Collinsville Memorial Library Center
408 West Main
Collinsville, IL 62234

Beginnings

The Collinsville Memorial Public Library owes its start to a group of public-spirited women, members of the Collinsville Study Club. October 15, 1915 marked the day on which Mrs. John Bruso, President of the Study Club, appointed a library project committee of three members: Mrs. Charles Holding, Mrs. Charles Listeman and Mrs. A.C. Powell. Realizing the need for money the Library Committee held a Japanese tea on November 2nd which raised the modest total of $14.25. Aware they needed books for the library, a book shower was held on April 14th which brought in a goodly total of 80 volumes of assorted kinds. Having secured permission from the City Council to use the second floor of the City Hall for library purposes, the library opened its doors on August 26, 1916 with a single bookcase of some three or four shelves displaying 121 books. Total financial resources had reached the princely sum of $40.02. The first librarian Mabelle Holding who later became Mrs. Webster Echols contributed her services for the few hours the library was open each week.

Soon the list of patrons passed 25 and the hold of card #10 was a grade school pupil named Irving Dilliard. Twenty years later he became a member of the Library Board and served as president for 50 years.

After the temporary quarter in the City Hall the library did some little moving about. On July 14, 1917 it settled in the Henry Stumpf house at the northeast corner of Church and Clinton Streets. In the midst of World War I the library moved her books and operations on March 8, 1918 to the second floor of the Miner’s Institute building and there it stayed for five years.

A major development came on March 2, 1919 when a community-wide library organization was formed with representatives of the Study Club, Household Science Club, Orpheus Club, Commercial Club and the Miners Union.

During 1923 a lot of library history was made. In January of that year the library was opened six days a week. A community-wide Library Board was set up by the women’s clubs and on May 15, 1923 this expanded community group voted to ask the City Council of Collinsville for tax support. The city officials took the petition under advisement, studied the matter carefully and on July 23, 1923 approved an ordinance providing for the maintenance of the library by means of a 1.8-mil tax.

On August 1 at the suggestion of the Royal Purple Temperance and Library Society, the name of the library was changed to the Collinsville Memorial Public Library in honor of the Collinsville ‘Soldiers who fell in the late war.’ The first municipal Board of Trustees took office in that same month of August 1923 and that the month marked still another move of the library, this time to the second floor of the Ideal Market building on the north side of Main Street east of Center Street.

Having served its purpose and ready to close activities with the establishment of federal prohibition, on April 30, 1925 the Royal Purple Temperance and Library Society donated approximately $4,500 in property and cash toward a new library. By September 1, 1927 the library purchased the Stephen W. Renfro house at 408 West Main Street and at last the library had a home of its own.

The next decade saw many advances including adoption of evening hours; opening of a children’s department ; purchase of metal shelving; start of proper cataloging of books; membership in the Illinois and American Library Associations and monthly circulation of 5,000 books.

The library turned the depression of the 1930s to benefit by applying for and obtaining a federal public works project grant of $9,000 toward the erection of a new building. The City Council of Collinsville approved the additional funds required.

Once again the Library moved. This time so the two-story home at 408 West Main Street could be razed and the central portion of the present colonial structure built on the site. With the library for one more time upstairs in the City Hall, site clearing began on February 6, 1937. Horse-powered excavation began on February 24 and the first brick was laid March 19. It was completed on July 31, dedicated on August 15 in observation of the centennial of the platting of Collinsville in 1837. The next day the library was opened to public use.

Since the original construction in 1937 the library has obtained two pieces of from property on each side of the original library ground, removed these dwellings and added an east wind and a west wing as part of a wing structure.

The west wing built in 1962-63 included enlargement of the book and reading room space. In 1966-67 the west wing was added along with the development of a children’s room, expansion of the reference area, enlargement of the office and staff space and research and record rooms.

In front of the library is the Dorris fountain presented in 1938 as a tribute by teachers and pupils of the Collinsville Schools to Charter Trustee Charles H. Dorris who was Collinsville Public School Superintendent from 1900-1937. The central figure in the fountain is a statue of Pan by the sculptor, Carl Christian Mose.

On the front of the building are bronze tablets with Collinsville military dead from World War I, World War II and the Korean Conflict.

Portions of this Collinsville Library history taken from excerpts of writings of Florence Burkholder, Librarian.