Library History

The Wauconda Area Library Story

The Wauconda Area Public Library has been serving our community in one form or another since 1939. It's been housed in five different buildings, and the current building has undergone two major renovations and expansion projects.

On this page you will find a gallery of historical library images dating back to our founding, a timeline of major events, and links to detailed histories of both the library and the Friends of the Library on this page.

The library is only one part of our community's storied past. If you're interested in learning more about Wauconda Area history, see our Digital History Collection and Yearbook Collections. 

Wauconda Area Library History Timeline

1939: Wauconda Area Library is founded by the Wauconda Women’s Club. The entire collection consists of one shelf housed at Wauconda Area High School, and the first librarian is a High School English teacher, Eleanor Herrod.  

1948: The library moves to the top floor of the Sports Shop on Main Street.

1949: 300 Wauconda residents have library cards at this time, and the library owns about 1200 volumes.

1950: The library moves to a new location at Village Hall.

1954: The library begins to use the Dewey Decimal system to catalog books.

1958: The library owns 5500 volumes, and there are 1100 registered patrons.

1962: A referendum establishes a Township Library, and the Wauconda Woman’s Club transfers library management to the newly elected library board. Myrtle Fink is the first Head Librarian.

1963: The library moves to a new location at 212 Osage Street.

1964: Friends of the Library organization is founded.

1966: The library owns 8,000 books.

1968: The library becomes a member of the Northern Illinois Library System.

1971: Myrtle Fink, first librarian of the Wauconda Township Library, retires and Clara Bogle becomes librarian.

1979: The library owns approximately 30,000 books, 850 records, 300 cassettes, and subscribes to 97 periodicals and six newspapers. A Young People’s Room is added to the library, along with a children’s librarian, Sharon Nicola. Clara Bogle retires, and after an acting-librarian tenure by Joan Stewart, David Erickson is hired as the new head librarian.

1980:  In 1980, the library serves a population of 11,708 and owns 30,500 books.  There are 4,685 registered cardholders, and the total yearly circulation is 61,685.  The library transfers from the Northern Illinois Library system to the North Suburban Library System.

1982: The library purchases its current property from the Wauconda School District for a total price of $25,000.

1986:  With the help of a Build Illinois grant for $530,000, along with a 20-year mortgage, groundbreaking for construction of the new building is held on August 16. At this time the library owns about 35,000 books, 2000 audio recordings, and 531 video cassettes, and there are 5, 347 registered patrons.

1987: The library officially moves from the building on Osage to its present day location at 801 N. Main Street. The new library opens its doors to the public on Friday, September 4th at 9:45, and the grand opening is held on September 19th.

1988: The library changes from a township library to a library district, and its service area expands to coincide with the borders of District 118.

1989: The library celebrates its 50th anniversary.

1990: The library serves a population of 16, 528 and owns about 40,000 books, 1900 video recordings, and 3,400 audio recordings. There are 9,570 registered cardholders, with a total circulation of 141, 623 in that year. The library owns three computers at this time: two for public use and one for staff.

1992: David Erickson retires as Head Librarian, and Tom Kern is hired as Library Director. The first issue of the library newsletter, at this time titled Focus, is sent to all district households in September.

1995: Voters approve a $4.5 million expansion and remodeling project, which commences in August 1996. From now until August 1997, the library materials are temporarily housed at a former Ben Franklin on IL-176.

1997: The newly remodeled library opens to the public on August 25th, and the grand opening is celebrated on September 28th.

1998: The library receives the Distinguished Building Award in September, from the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects. In the same year the new Children’s services area is featured in an exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago’s Architecture and design section, as one of six notable public children’s spaces in the Chicago area

2000: The library serves a population of 21, 625 and owns 79, 400 books, 7,000 video recordings, and 10, 600 audio recordings. There are 16, 332 registered cardholders, and the total circulation for the year is 337, 138. The library owns 52 computers; 26 for public use and 26 for staff.

2003: The library installs its first self-checkout station.

2005: The library is named Library of the Year by the North Suburban Library System.

2010: The library serves a population of 27, 246 and owns 113,000 books, 16,200 video recordings, and 12,500 audio recordings. There are 21,000 registered cardholders, and the total yearly circulation is 663,281. The library owns 93 computers—54 for public use and 39 for staff.

2011: Reaching Across Illinois Library System, or RAILS, is founded—with Wauconda Area Public Library as a member. RAILS now services over 1300 private, public, school, and university libraries across Illinois.

2014: The library begins a major new renovation project.

2015: Grand re-opening of the newly renovated library is held on April 18th.

2019: The library completes a major renovation of the exterior, including the front stairway and plaza, begun in 2018. A grand reopening is held along with a celebration of the library’s 80th birthday, on September 28th.

2019-2020: Tom Kern retires as library director in October 2019, after 27 years of service. Following a period serving as acting director, former Assistant Director Elizabeth Greenup is appointed the new Library Director in February 2020.