Enlightening and Inspiring Generations with Generations of Ideas

Library History

The LaSalle Public Library is rich in history - a history that began in 1884. This is the year that a group of LaSalle residents united to form a Literary Club. Through fund-raising efforts, by 1885 enough money was raised to establish a small library. A rented room on the south side of First Street between Marquette and Joliet housed a small collection of books. The activities of the library were directed by its first librarian, Miss Mary Wood. The Library was relocated in 1889 when the collection was moved into a room in a building remodeled and donated by Frederick Matthiessen. Its new location was at the corner of Fourth and Joliet. A constitution and bylaws were adopted and on April 24, 1890 the organization was incorporated as "The LaSalle Library Association." Anyone could use the library; however, to check out books, citizens paid $1.00 per year. By 1896 the collection consisted of 1,245 volumes.

At a special meeting of the LaSalle City Council held on March 10, 1904, an ordinance was adopted that established a public library and reading room for the city of LaSalle. The ordinance was approved on March 11, 1904 and the LaSalle Public Library came into existence. On April 5, 1905 the property at the northwest corner of Third and Marquette, the site of the present building, was purchased for $4,250. The building was made possible through a $25,000 grant from Andrew Carnegie. The LaSalle Public Library was designed by architect Victor Matteson and officially opened on January 19, 1907. In 1907, the Library housed 3,364 volumes.

Over the years the library has expanded its collection and services. In the 1950s, it contained approximately 16,000 volumes. The Children's Room was moved to the lower level in the 1960s and in the 1970s a renovation and expansion project was completed giving the Library a mezzanine level to shelve the overflow of books. In 2003 the Library completed an addition and renovations of the existing library that almost tripled the size of the building.

As of 2019, the Library houses a collection of 65,000 titles, which include adult, young adult, and juvenile fiction and non-fiction, large print, audio, foreign language, local history, reference, magazines, DVDs, and music.  The Library also offers access to e-books and e-audiobooks, via two online consortiums. 

As a member of the Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS), a regional system funded by the Illinois State Library, users can access LaSalle's collection through our online catalog, PrairieCat, at home, or at the Library. Users can utilize online resources through public computers at the Library.

As a city library, the LaSalle Public Library is funded primarily through property taxes paid by the residents of LaSalle. It is governed by an appointed nine-member Board of Trustees. As the LaSalle Public Library begins a second century of service, the Board of Trustees and staff are dedicated to providing a doorway to information that will enhance the lives of its patrons.

During the 2007 Centennial Celebration, staff made 25 minute film - Celebrating a Century - documenting the history of the Library. The film can be viewed if requested.