Belleville Public Library - Main Branch

121 East Washington Street
Swansea, IL 62220


History :

The Belleville Public Library was started over 170 years ago by German immigrants known as "Latin Farmers." To preserve their cultural heritage as well as provide for its growth, these German men met regularly for the discussion and exchange of ideas. On June 26, 1836, these men decided to pool their books and house them in a place easily accessible to all for circulation. At the next regular meeting, the German Library Society of St. Clair County was formed. This first "library" was kept at the home of appointed librarian, Dr. Schott.

The library kept growing, mainly through donations, and in 1853 was moved to the Odd Fellows Hall in Belleville.

In 1861, the German Library Society consolidated with the Belleville Saengerbund, an organization for the culture of music. The Library was then moved to Eimer Hall and was called the Belleville Saengerbund and Library Society.

In 1883, the society offered its book collection to the city of Belleville as a donation to be used as a Public Library. This collection consisted of about 6,000 volumes of general literature, history, science and fiction, plus newspapers and periodicals. There were three times as many books written in German as in English. The library collection was moved to the remodeled Union Engine House on Jackson Street.

In 1916, the library's present location was dedicated. The library building was donated by the Carnegie Foundation with the agreement that the City would provide a site and pledge itself to maintain the library. In 1973, a twostory addition was added to the original Carnegie Library.

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