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The Quincy Public Library to Celebrate 125th Anniversary, Part III

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The Quincy Public Library, now located at 526 Jersey Street in downtown Quincy, Illinois is celebrating its 125th anniversary tomorrow. As with a number of suburban libraries and also the Rogers Park Branch of the Chicago Public Library, as well as branches of the Boston Public Library, which I have previously profiled, the Quincy Public Library was preceded by a social library. The State of Illinois authorized the foundation of these social libraries when the General Assembly passed An Act to incorporate such persons as may associate for the purpose of procuring and erecting libraries on January 31, 1823.

Citing Katherine Lucinda Sharp’s Illinois Libraries, published in 1907, Gwladys Spencer notes in The Chicago Public Library: Origins and Backgrounds, published in 1943, that people had first attempted to organize a library in Quincy before 1837, but one was not chartered until 1841. This was the Quincy Library Association.

In 1854, Gibson & Warren published a fifteen-page-long pamphlet entitled, “A Lecture, Delivered Before the Quincy Library Association, on Woman's Wrongs.” At least one copy survives.

According to WorldCat, the title concerns women’s rights and it is in the Huntington Library in San Marino, California. WorldCat further states the author was “G C Dixon; Quincy Library Association (Quincy, Ill.).” It further identifies him as “G.C. Dixon, esq. of Keokuk, Iowa.”

Thanks to Frieda V. Marshall, we know The Quincy Unitarian Church’s Eclectic Club accepted an invitation in 1872 to “to assist in giving a dramatic and musical entertainment for its benefit.”

The Quincy Public Library (Q.P.L.) opened as the Free Library and Reading Room in 1889. As mentioned in Part II, this first public library building in Quincy was, until recently, the aforementioned Gardener Museum of Architecture & Design.

The Q.P.L. stated in a recent press release, “The Quincy Free Public Library opened on June 24, 1889 in the old building at the corner of 4th and Maine Streets. Sarah Denman and Lorenzo Bull along with other public-spirited citizens laid the foundation for the Free Public Library, which made services available to all Quincy residents.”

Meghan Townley covered the story of the Q.P.L.’s 125th anniversary celebration for KHQA TV in Quincy. The video she produced can also be viewed on YouTube.

"One of the ways that the library has changed in the last 125 years, is that it really has become more of a community space," Katie Kraushaar, Manager of Information Services, said in the video. "You're not just coming in to read the classic books, to educate yourself. Education has changed so much in the last 125 years, books have changed so much, it really is about finding that community space where you feel comfortable."

Ms. Townley wrote, “The celebration will take place on Tuesday, June 24, starting at 11:30am with free food at the library.”

You can view the display of historic photos, record your library memories on video, or put your thoughts on the scribble wall, as well as view the Wish Tree located in the lobby of the library. The Wish Tree consists of items needed to be purchased to help the library and its efforts.

At 1:25pm, a panel discussion will take place with Chuck Scholz, Dwain Preston, Mary Griffith and Martha Ward.

A walking tour to and through the old library building at 4th and Maine will follow the program.

Anniversary events will kick off with a brief presentation by the aforementioned Iris Nelson on the roots of the Q.P.L., followed by a panel discussion by Chuck Scholz, Dwain Preston, Mary Griffith and Martha Ward, of personal memories of visits to the old library building. The Q.P.L. stated, “Following the panel discussion, there will be a walking tour to and through the old library building.”

Quincy residents are also asked to share their favorite memories of the Library. A “Scribble Wall” will be available for people to post their thoughts of the library. Residents may also choose to archive their memories on video. QPL staff will be available in the South Study Room to record residents as they describe their favorite Library memories.

Historic photos and facts will be on display in the Library lobby. Residents may also peruse the wish list items to benefit the Library on the Giving Tree, also on display in the Library lobby. Enjoy refreshments and receive a small memento.

In honor of the 125th anniversary, QPL will offer reduced fees on all fines incurred before June 24, 2014. Pay only 25 cents for each $1 of fines incurred. Visit the CHECK OUT HERE desk to learn more about reduced fines…

For more information on Quincy Public Library’s 125th Anniversary, please call the Library at 223-1309.

The Q.P.L. is one of the Illinois State Library’s Illinois Depository Libraries. In 2010, Illinois Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White announced the Q.P.L. received a $125,000 Live and Learn Construction Grant from through the Illinois State Library “to replace the heating, ventilating and air conditioning system as part of a larger renovation project.”

The Quincy Public Library is under contract with the Townships of the Quincy Area Library District (T.Q.A.P.L.D.) to provide library services to residents of Melrose, Riverside and Ellington Townships living in School District #172 and residents of Gilmer Township living in the Liberty School District. The Tri-Quincy (T.Q.) Public Library District formed in the early 1990s after a year-long trial period under a state grant that provided library services through the Q.P.L. to residents of Melrose, Riverside and Ellington townships living in School District #172.

In a 1992 public referendum, the demos voted in favor of creating the library district. The Board of Directors sat and an ad hoc planning committee comprised of representatives of all three townships was selected to determine the Tri-Quincy Public Library District’s goals and its mission statement.

In November of 2004, voters in Gilmer, Ellington, Melrose, and Riverside Townships voted to annex Gilmer Township into the Tri-Quincy Area Public Library District. In January of 2008, the T.Q. Board of Trustees voted on a name change. On July 1, 2008, the Tri-Quincy Public Library District became the Townships of the Quincy Area Public Library District.

The Mary Weems Barton Quincy Public Library Foundation raises money for the Q.P.L. Since its foundation in 1997, it has raised over $500,000 for the Q.P.L.

Its eponym, Mary Weems Barton, was the last member of a prominent family in Quincy. At the age of thirty-one, her father, Charles “Chink” Weems, was the youngest man ever to be elected mayor, in 1923. He also headed the Pure Ice company, his grandfather, Jesse Weems, had founded in 1894, and the aforementioned Dick Brothers’ Brewery.

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