Lincoln Library

326 South 7th Street
Springfield, IL 62701

217-753-4900

History of Lincoln Library

Libraries have long been a part of the Springfield community. The first libraries were subscription libraries for which individuals would pay an annual fee to borrow materials. By the turn of the twentieth century, the growth of public libraries began to increase across the country. In fact, the Springfield Library Association, a subscription library, voted to turn its collection over to the city to serve as the foundation for a free public library for Springfield’s residents. With the approval of the City Council, an ordinance was passed on February 1, 1886, providing for the city’s first public library: the Springfield Public Library.

For the first several years of its existence, the library did not have a permanent home. By 1894, the library moved from its original location in the YMCA building at 5th and Capitol streets to the third floor of City Hall. However, just as the city was growing so too was the library’s collection.

At this time, the industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie was providing funds for public libraries across the country. In 1899, a request was sent to Mr. Carnegie asking for funds to help build a new library for the citizens of Springfield. In 1901, the city’s request was approved. Construction began on the new library in 1902 and was completed in 1904, with the building being dedicated on June 7, 1904. With the new building came a new name: Lincoln Library, a name recommended by Andrew Carnegie himself!

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