It started on Graceland

The Des Plaines Public Library first opened its doors at Miner and Graceland Streets on October 5, 1907. The building was funded by a $5,000 grant from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Mr. Carnegie refused the town's leaders requests more than once, until the persuasive Dr. Earle convinced him to help fund the institution. The first librarian was Mary Weeks, who took charge of the library for the sum of ten dollars a month.

A referendum was passed in 1957 that provided a new library building a few blocks from the original site. Many residents still remember the Boy Scouts using shopping carts to move books from the old building to the new one. Two subsequent additions expanded the building to nearly 40,000 square feet.

Out in the community: the Mobile Library and more

The library’s bookmobile also served the community for 43 years, bringing materials to residents at more than 30 schools, parks and senior living facilities in Des Plaines and Rosemont from 1969 to 2012. Library staff have continued to grow these services since the bookmobile retired, reaching out to thousands of residents each year in schools, senior residences, and at community events.

A new building, a new place

In the spring of 1998, the City Council approved a downtown redevelopment project which included a new 82,000 square-foot library as its centerpiece. Designed by the award-winning architectural firm Lohan and Anderson, and built by contractor Leopardo and Companies, the elegant four story building opened on August 14, 2000.

Over the last eleven decades, the Des Plaines Public Library has established itself as a community center, technology hub and cultural destination. Here are some of the ways YOU use the library in one year:

  • Visit the building 500,000 times
  • Visit the website 400,000 times
  • Check out 1,000,000 items
  • Use a computer over 125,000 times
  • Ask over 200,000 questions
  • Attend more than 1,000 movies, lectures, performances, crafts and other programs

Thank you for all of your support over the years. We are proud to be the Public Library of Des Plaines, Illinois.