History of the Library

To Our Patrons

The Tolono Public Library is dedicated to providing resources to expand and improve the quality of life for the residents in its district. We shall continue to develop and expand our collection to meet the recreational and educational needs of our patrons. Through programs, events, reciprocal borrowing and inter-library loans, the library will facilitate learning and support the joy of reading for our valued library patrons.

Tour of the Library

Library History

The Tolono Public Library District had its beginning with a service club project. In December, 1967, Frankie Reifsteck initiated the formation of a service club for the community. On December 14, the Tolono Junior Service Club held their first meeting with 19 members. Officers were elected, a constitution drafted and the first project chosen was the establishment of a library.

In January, fund raising began, a possible location for the library discussed and information gathered for creation of a library. Visits to Philo, Mahomet, Tuscola and Villa Grove libraries were made. All were members of the Lincoln Trails Libraries System and at the march meeting it was learned from a system representative that a library had first to be tax supported. The logical procedure was to follow steps to become a part of the system. Lincoln Trail strongly recommended a Township Library.

At a special meeting in April, the township lawyer was instructed to draw up a petition for a library referendum. Letters were sent to other clubs, offering speakers to explain the library project and ask for support. The response was encouraging.

Possible library board candidates were explored in May. Lyle Franks, June Gardner, Chauncy Grimm, Sharon Holt, Hazel Horton and Joanne Snodgrass consented to be candidates and the service club circulated their petitions. A library referendum was presented for the November election.

An open house was held at the high school in October to give the public a chance to view library materials, meet candidates for the board and speak with the Lincoln Trail representative about the upcoming referendum. Service club members visited Tolono residents to explain the referendum and postcards were sent to rural residents.

On November 5, 1968 the result of the vote was 574 to 513 in favor of the library. The seven board members were elected and conducted their first meeting.

As a result of a bazaar/bake sale by the service club a $500 check was presented to the library board by January.

In January, library films were shown to children in the Methodist church basement. A scrapbook was presented to the library in March by the service club.

A building was available for rent and by May, cleaning and set up began. Margaret Reifsteck was hired as the first librarian and doors opened on July 25, 1969.

The building was purchased the following year for $10,000, applying rent to payment, and George Smith and Marion Moore began work on an archives section. Hazel Horton helped with program planning. Since then, several program directors have been hired.

On March 3, 1991, the library accepted the American Savings building and the deed was presented by Ms. Janet Proffitt on April 2.

In 1986 another referendum passed converting the township library into a Library District. A Lincoln Trail Libraries System grant was used to pay for this referendum as well a referendum adding Savoy and Pesotum residents into the District. The second referendum failed at that time. However, in 1996 Sadorus residents and contiguous landowners were added to the district as were the remaining Village of Savoy residents in 1994.

In 1997, two generous library patrons from Tolono, left memorials sufficient enough to provide financial resources to build a new 7,950 square foot building. These funds were supplemented by a Live and Learn Grant from the Secretary of State’s Office.

Starting with 2,000 volumes, the library now boasts over 40,000 volumes and several collections have been added including audio books, large print books, videos, dvds, cds as well as a variety of programs for children and adults.

In the past, the Tolono Public Library District has been fortunate to have an important and generous affiliate group, The Friends of the Tolono Library. This was a group of residents who volunteered their time and talents to provide additional resources for library patrons. In coordination with the Library Staff and Board, The Friends of Tolono Library organized their own fundraising events as well as volunteered at library functions.  With over 40 years of generous volunteer efforts, the library is proud of its legacy and ambitious about its future.