Library History

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.

Library History

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

In January 1968, the service club began fundraising while gathering information and discussing possible locations for a library. The service club members made visits to Mahomet, Philo, Tuscola, and Villa Grove libraries, which were all members of the Lincoln Trails Libraries System. At the March meeting, the service club learned from a system representative that a library had to be tax supported first. The logical procedure was to follow the necessary steps to become a part of the system. The Lincoln Trails Libraries System strongly recommended becoming 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, which offered to have speakers come and explain the library project and ask for support. The response was encouraging. In May, service club members explored possible library board candidates. Lyle Franks, June Gardner, Chauncy Grimm, Sharon Holt, Hazel Horton, and Joanne Snodgrass consented to being candidates, and the service club circulated their petitions. A library referendum was presented for the upcoming election in November.

Later that year in October, an open house was held at the high school to give the public a chance to view library materials, to meet with candidates for the library board, and to speak with the Lincoln Trail Libraries System representative about the upcoming referendum. Service club members visited with Tolono residents to explain the referendum, with postcards sent out to the rural residents. On November 5th, 1968, the referendum passed with a final vote of 574 to 513 in favor of the creation of a library. The seven board members were elected and conducted their first meeting.

In January, a $500 check was presented to the Library Board from service club members who had previously hosted a bake sale and bazaar. At the time, library films were being shown to children in the Methodist church basement, and shortly after, a building became available for rent. By May, cleaning and set up began. Margaret Reifsteck was hired as the first librarian and the doors opened for the new library on July 25th, 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, with Hazel Horton helping with program planning. On March 3rd, 1991, the library accepted the American Savings building and the deed was presented by Ms. Janet Proffitt on April 2nd.

In 1986, a second referendum was passed that would convert the township library into a Library District, which was paid for by an Lincoln Trail Libraries System grant. Later that year, a third referendum was placed on the ballot which would add residents from Pesotum. This referendum failed at the time. In 1994, a third referendum was passed, adding the remaining residents from the Village of Savoy into the district. Finally in 1996, residents from Sadorus as well as contiguous landowners were added into the district.

In 1997, Margaret Roy and Mary Quinn, 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 just 2,000 volumes, the Library now boasts almost 40,000 volumes with several collections being added including audiobooks, large print books, DVDs, and video games as well as a variety of programs for all ages.

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 Library Board of Trustees, 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.