The Rock Island Public Library was honored with an Illinois Centennial Business Award on Saturday, September 14, from the Illinois State Historical Society.
Rock Island Public Library Honored with a 2019 Illinois Centennial Award
Rock Island Public Library was honored with an Illinois Centennial Business Award on Saturday, September 14, from the Illinois State Historical Society.The 35th annual Centennial Business Awards luncheon in Jacksonville, IL, recognized 35 Illinois businesses with 100 years (147 years, in the case of Rock Island Public Library) of continuous existence.
"It is an honor and privilege to recognize and celebrate the achievement of these unique businesses and organizations that have achieved the centennial milestone," said ISHS executive director William Furry. "Fewer than 10 percent of all corporations survive 100 years, and those that do have done so with great sacrifice. They have also persevered economic downturns, recessions, personal losses, and enormous changes in the industry. Their resilience, and not a little luck, made all the difference. To each of them, we extend our best wishes for the next 100 years."
Angela Campbell, Rock Island Public Library director, traveled to Jacksonville to accept the award. The Rock Island Public Library and Reading Room was established by city ordinance on August 12, 1872, opening to the public on November 25, 1872, using the rented room and “books, pamphlets, papers, fixtures, and other property of the Young Men’s Library Association.” The Illinois State Legislature had recently passed a law whereby municipalities having power to levy taxes could raise money to establish and maintain free public libraries. Rock Island was the first Illinois public library to actually open to the public after the passing of the Illinois Library Act.
One of the “fixtures” of the previous private library was the first librarian, Miss Ellen Gale. She served the Rock Island Public Library for 64 years, the longest tenure of any Illinois librarian. In 1902 a new cornerstone was laid for a new downtown public library, which opened on December 15, 1903. When it opened it was called “Rock Island’s Temple of Literature.” In 2006, the downtown location received a cosmetic makeover, including new paint, carpeting, desk changes, and some necessary remodeling.
Photo: Angela Campbell receives a certificate with the ISHS Centennial Seal signed by President Dan Monroe and Executive Director William Furry. Photo: Illinois State Historical Society.