History of the Du Quoin Public Library
In 1934, the Junior Women's Club, now the Thursday Club, decided the city of Du Quoin needed a public library. The Club asked for donations and the community responded. A small block building, on North Mulberry Street, was donated by Mr. John Yehling. The Chamber of Commerce was responsible for the lighting of the library and Mr. LaFae Bradley gave freely of his time in the construction of the shelves for the reading room.
On opening day, July 2, 1934, approximately 1,000 books were donated by the residents of Du Quoin. Although the Junior Women's Club was the principal sponsor of the project, an advisory board of three local businessman was selected, and they were Joe Strickler, Harry Lancaster, and V. G. Croessman. Mrs. Allean Beem was the first librarian.
Beginning in 1937, the library received assistance from the Works Progress Administration. This assistance provided better shelving, a children's section, and the salaries of a custodian and a librarian, then Mrs. Bess Chesney.
Even though the library received WPA assistance, it was still an expensive project for the members of the Junior Women's Club, so they asked other organizations to assist. Together, they formed a new library board composed of a representative from each club.
That board in 1940, appealed to the city council for public support in the form of tax funds. The request was granted and the Du Quoin Public Library was reorganized according to the State Constitution.
The first Board of Directors to administer tax funds was composed of Florence Baird, Rosamond Forester, Arline Yehling, Catherine Parks, Leah Hayes, Camille Karraker, Bertha Carr, Anton Berg, and Lapur Horn.
On July 5, 1940, with the increase of the book collection (4,000 titles) a larger building was needed. The library moved to the Gill building at the intersection of Poplar and Mulberry Streets.
Following the death of Mrs. Chesney in 1946, Mrs. Dorothy Pritchett became librarian for the next four years, resigning in September, 1950. Upon her resignation, Mrs. Ann Richardson was appointed librarian and filled the position until her death March 12, 1967. Mrs. Lillian Swayer was then appointed and served until her illness in January, 1975.
In March 1953, the still-growing library was moved to the Ray Provart building on South Division Street. At this time the library housed 6,326 volumes and served 3,450 patrons.
In the fall of 1956, when the General Telephone Company occupied its new dial exchange on East Park Street, the firm, under the direction of Manager Frank Simons of Du Quoin, offered its evacuated building to the city for $8,000, providing it be used for a library. The city accepted the offer and with the assistance of the Lions Club members, the library was moved to 6 South Washington.
On July 1, 1966, the Du Quoin Library became a member of the Shawnee Library System, entitling patrons to have more access not only to books, but to LP records, cassettes, video tapes, and microfilm newspapers and census records.
In July, 1990 the library moved to its current location in the new City Complex building at 28 South Washington Street. Please come and visit us.