Wood River Public Library Foundation

History & Mission

The Wood River Public Library Foundation was reorganized in 2016 and given the charge to increase private-sector support to benefit the growing needs of the Wood River Public Library.

The Wood River Public Library Foundation is an independent nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization registered with the IRS and the State of Illinois. All donations are fully tax-deductible as allowed by law

The mission of the Wood River Public Library Foundation is to support the Library's programs and services through advocacy and fundraising and to build relationships with others who share a passion for the Library's work. 

Wood River Public Library

In January, 1920 at a regular meeting of the Wood River Woman’s Club a member arose and said, “I wonder if there is not something that the Woman’s Club can do with regard to levying a library tax for Wood River.” After a thoughtful pause the president, Mrs. H. P. Stoeckel said, “I think something can be done if there is someone interested enough to investigate and make a report on the best plan to follow”. Without further discussion Mrs. E. G. Werner was appointed to head a committee to make the investigation. She was ably assisted by Mrs. Robert Parks and Mrs. M.F. Manning, former presidents of the club. After a conference with the Village Attorney and Assistant State Librarian, Mrs. Werner reported on the “Village Plan” which permitted, at that time, a tax levy of one and one third mills on each dollar of assessed valuation of property. The proposition was placed on the ballot and the question of establishing and maintaining a Free Public Library and Reading Room received a large favorable majority at the spring election.

The Wood River Public Library was formally opened July 3, 1922 in a rented room at 27 W. Ferguson Avenue with shelving and tables donated by the Standard Oil Company. On the shelves were 37 books belonging to the library and 75 loaned by the State Library Extension Division. Mrs. Wm. E. Wolf was appointed librarian at a monthly salary of $60.00 and the total circulation for the first year was 5,477 volumes. Members of the first Library Board were Mrs. E.G. Werner, President; Mrs. C.E. Graves, Secretary; M.F. Manning, J.K. Towey, J.G. Rigg and G.A. Smith.

By 1924 the library had outgrown the room on Ferguson Avenue and moved to larger quarters in the Burnet Building at 9 Whitelaw Avenue. On February 11, 1929 the building was destroyed by fire and the books in Wood River were less by 3,000. However 900 volumes were in circulation and using these as a nucleus the Library Board immediately proceeded with the work of reconstruction in a new room rented at 114 Whitelaw Avenue. This location was the home of the library until February 22, 1958 but shelving was overcrowded and there was no room for expansion. Therefore, the Library Board decided to submit to the citizens of Wood River a proposal whereby in ten years we could own our own library building. The $210,000.00 bond issue for such was voted upon favorably in April 1956, all clerks and judges giving their time gratuitously. A central location at 326 E Ferguson Avenue had been chosen as the site for the new building. Keeney and Stolze were retained as architects and bids were let in October, 1956.

On March 30, 1958, the current location was dedicated. The building was beautiful and modern and a fitting place to house its 18,984 volumes ample room for future expansion. A lecture hall provided space for educational and cultural purposes and a meeting space for civic and cultural organizations. Miss Thelma Juhlin, librarian, was assisted by an able staff in serving the 6359 borrowers of the library. At the time, the library circulated, on average, 156 items a day.

The library belongs to the people of Wood River, free for all to use. The city can proudly offer the library, a cultural influence to the citizens of the community and especially to the boys and girls who are citizens of tomorrow.

Members of the Foundation

Rob LaMarsh

Pat Devening

Kathy Germsheid

Andrew Russell

Cheryl Maguire

Rosalie Huebner

Mike Anderson

Memorial Bricks

The Wood River Public Library Foundation maintains a Memorial Garden at the front of the Library. Those wishing to purchase a memorial brick can download the form here or stop by the Library to get a paper copy.