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Public Libraries of Illinois
Cities N-P

Naperville (Nichols Library)

(L) Broeker & Spiegler postcard, mailed in 1908. This was not a printer, but a general store in Naperville.

(R) L.L. Cook card from the 1940s, well predating its 1961 addition.









(L) C.R. Childs postcard.

(R) Unknown publisher; printed in Germany.

This was Naperville's public library until 1981. Over its final years, the building had several office occupants. In 2018, demolition of the addition, then of the building (excluding its facade) occurred. 

The current Nichols Library is also in downtown Naperville. Naperville Public Library's most recently built facility is the 95th Street Library, opened September, 2003. It lies within Will County, attesting to the rapid growth of this city in Chicago's collar counties.

Neponset, IL city hall and public library

This utilitarian building also served as city hall. The library has found a dedicated building, and the city hall is still housed in the building shown, minus its dormers.

Photo postcard, mailed 1910.

Oak Park
Scoville Institute/Oak Park, IL public library

(L) Built in 1888, according to an Oak Park village history site. Demolished ca. 1961, according to the library's site. 

(R) Scoville Institute and Oak Park Public Library on a J.O. Stoll linen finish card printed by Curt Teich. This appears to date from the WWII era.

Scoville Institute/Oak Park, IL public library
Main Library: Fiscal Outreach

Obverse and reverse of a card distributed by the Friends of the Oak Park Public Library, and endorsed by a board member. The front still shows the old church present in the earlier cards. The reverse reads:

A modern Cultural Center for 'The World's Largest Village'
Special features: Space for three times the number of books available in the old building; ground level entrance with no interior stairs to climb; Adult Lounge and Browsing area; 100 seats for reading and study; enlarged Children's Room; Story Hour Room; 236 seat meeting room for use of civic groups, film showings and book talks; Scoville Memorial Meeting Room; record listening; air conditioning. Cost, including improvements at Maze Branch and Dole Branch: $1,395,000. Cost to the average home owner: $3.90 per year for 20 years.

I grew familiar with this library during its exile to an abandoned auto parts store, although I had visited the 1964 building once previously to its 2002 demolition.
Two of the branches look as if they could have been Carnegie buildings.

The newest (post-1966) card was a local production, by Michael West Photography. It was a project of the Tourism Committee of the Oak Park - River Forest Chamber of Commerce.

Oak Park (IL) mid-century brutalist library
Maze Branch

It is likely that this is the first, rented building at 429 Harrison Street, among many apartments. The branch dwelt there from 1915-1936. I believe this to have been demolished for the building of I-290.


The card's caption is not particularly helpful, but I've seen worse.

Ottawa (Reddick's Library)
Reddick's Library, Ottawa, IL in Italianate building

(L) E.C. Kropp card, never mailed.
(R) Tinted card with abnormally wide white border.


Reddick's Library, Ottawa, IL in Italianate building

Built 1860; left to the city of Ottawa in 1885 (along with a tidy endowment); replaced in 1975.
The current library is not especially beautiful, but it looks more than adequate for the purpose.
As the Historic Reddick Mansion, this Italianate building is open to the public.


When you worry about immigration, keep the story of William Reddick in mind.


Replaced by a Carnegie building (Carnegie-Schuyler Public Library). The Library states that its 1901 location was at Second & Poplar, in the rear of the YMCA building, now the Moose Lodge. Examining the corner on Google Street View makes me conclude that:

  • The corner tower was removed.

  • The bay window was removed, and two sets of glass blocks installed.

  • The arched entry has had a Tudor-looking stucco and board device added.

This must have been totally unsuited for its purpose, and now the building is not even slightly attractive.


The postcard was by Wittman & Schneider, and was mailed in 1907.

Pana, IL's 1st library in Romanesque style.
Park Ridge
Park Ridge's library which replaced the Carnegie building

This 1958 building replaced the Carnegie library, which stands across the street. 

The postcard was printed by the Joboul Publishing Company.

1897 Peoria (IL) public library, Romanesque style

Many postcards exist of the 1897 building; at least two are known of the 1967 building.
Card mailed in 1910.


As an institution, the Peoria Public Library is more than 130 years old.
One of the Peoria branch libraries, Lincoln, is a Carnegie building, but this 1897 library was not.

An area blog, The Community Word, calls PPL 'Peoria's intellectual safety net,' a phrase I wish I'd coined.

Its main location, shown at right, was built in 1967, replacing the rather imposing building shown above.
Peoria took a different approach than did Minneapolis and Madison with its mid-century main location, renovating rather than demolishing. Renovations were complete in mid-2011, and appear to have solved the light and space issues of the 1967 version. The addition, also in Mid-century Modern style, looks as if it's been there from the start--a difficult architectural feat to pull off.

My favorite branch, Lakeview, has had an update for the 21st century.

Peoria, IL main library ca. 1967

(L) Tinted, vertical card.
(R) Zim brand card, for Bolander's 5¢ & 10¢ Store.

Pontiac, IL public library
Pontiac, IL public library

This is a rather stiff Romanesque rendition. It reminds me of the city building where the first Dundee Township (IL) library was housed. To give Pontiac credit, it was a dedicated library building.

There is a complete history provided on the Pontiac Public Library's web page. I'll give the highlights: built in 1894; replaced in 1952 (and again in 1995--into another old Sears building). Its current status is unknown to me.

What's the deal in the Midwest, anyway, about reusing old Sears stores (Decatur, IL; Anderson, IN)? Were they that attractive? Or just attractive corporate tax writeoffs?

At least this new(er) building has some prior history as a Goodrich (tires) distributorship.

Princeton (Matson Public Library)
Matson Public Library, Princeton, IL

(L) I believe that this is a C.H. Masters photo postcard, as the caption printing closely resembles the card of the right, and is numbered similarly. It was mailed in 1914, by a man waiting for a train.

(R) Astonishingly lovely interior view. Notice the light fixtures and the floral arrangements on every table.It was mailed in 1913, which makes me think that this might be a dedication photo.

Interior of the Matson Public Library, Princeton, IL
Matson Public Library, Princeton, IL

(L) From Tribune Printing.
(R) E.C. Kropp knockoff of Curt Teich's Blue Sky postcard line.

Matson Public Library, Princeton, IL

Established, 1890.
Built in 1912 by Patton & Miller, noted library architects. Replaced, 2007, spurred by ADA compliance complaints, per Wikipedia. It's still standing, and appears to be a residence. In a sweet touch, there's a Little Free Library in its yard today (witnessed 2018). 

Photo of former Matson Public library, copyright 2018 by Judy Aulik

Still in use as the Henry C. Adams Memorial Library.

Built in 1929: remodeled in 2002. It bears a close resemblance to some of the last Carnegie-funded libraries.


So, you may ask, what was Mr. Adams' claim to fame?
He invented the self-sharpening reel lawnmower. For those of you who mow the lawn on early weekend mornings, please buy one of Henry's inventions.

Henry C. Adams Memorial Library, Prophetstown, IL
Princeville (Lillie M. Evans Public Library)
Lillie M. Evans public library, Princeville, IL

If you think this was a huge building for the size of this Peoria County library, I concur. 

Guess what? It's even bigger today, thanks to a 2016 renovation/rebuild.

Library service began in 1927, with a hodge-podge collection of donated books. Formal library service began in 1943 as a public library; it began to serve the school district in 1956 (an Illinois peculiarity).

At this point Ms. Evans stepped in as she stepped off this earthly plane with a quarter-million dollar bequest, including land. Of course, terms stated that the village must keep up the library, and it appears it has.

This is one of the latest L.L. Cook black & white photo postcards of which I am aware. The Ford Econoline van in front dates it to late 1960 at the earliest. 

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