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About The Library

About the DeKalb Public Library

DeKalb Public Library is committed to providing value and excellent service to the City of DeKalb, an exurban community approximately 60 miles west of Chicago. Serving a core population of approximately 44,000 residents, and drawing reciprocal patrons from the surrounding area, DKPL is regarded as an important information, entertainment, and community resource for people of all ages.

DeKalb Public Library features a collection of more than 150,000 physical items, including books, CDs, DVDs, periodicals, and an expansive collection of digital materials and electronic resources. We are a member of the PrairieCat consortium which provides our library patrons with access to over 1,000,000 items. We regularly bring new technologies to our patrons, and provide wifi, computer access, and training.

The library is run by the Director, who is hired by the Library Board of Trustees. The nine members of the Board of Trustees are appointed by the Mayor to serve three-year terms. The Board generally meets on the second Wednesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. in the Bilder Family Meeting Room. All meetings are open to the public. Check the DKPL online calendar for meeting dates.

The Library is divided into six departments: Administration, Facilities, Public Relations and Events, Adult Services, Youth Services, and Access Services. The manager of each department reports to the Director. The Library has approximately 16 full-time and 33 part-time employees.

Building and History

The DeKalb Public Library began in the 1880s as a reading room of donated books that was staffed by volunteers. In 1893 the City Council established a public library in a room on the second floor of City Hall, which was then located at 125 South Second Street. By 1895 the library was growing in popularity, but lacked adequate funds to serve the public and nearly closed down. To avoid a shutdown Annie Glidden and the ladies of the Library Whist Club began to donate a portion of their card winnings to the library—a partnership which continues to this day.

Although the library had a home, it was located adjacent to the city jail. In 1923 the library moved to the second floor of the Daily Chronicle building at 114 East Lincoln Highway, which also housed a roller skating rink on the third floor. Because of the noise from the skates the library was forced to drastically reduce its hours.

On February 15, 1931, the beautiful Haish Memorial Library Building at 309 Oak Street was dedicated. Built on land provided by the city and financed by a bequest of $150,000 from barbed-wire millionaire Jacob Haish, the striking building with its Indiana Bedford limestone facade soon gained national recognition through an article in Architecture magazine. In 1934 the library received a mural by Gustaf Dahlstrom from the Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project. The mural is installed over the fireplace in the main reading room of the Haish building.

Through the years the building has seen many changes. In the 1960s an art gallery in the east wing was made into a children’s room and the stacks were expanded upward. In 1978-79 a two-story addition on the south side provided for a reference room and a lower-level children’s room. In 1980, the Haish Memorial Library Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places. In January 2016 the first phase of a major expansion project was completed, adding 46,000 sq. ft. to the building. In September 2016 the second phase was completed with the re-opening of the remodeled Haish building.

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