Homewood Public Library staff and patrons marked 30 years at its current location, 17917 Dixie Highway, with a mini-celebration on Friday, Feb. 14, marking the date it officially opened to patrons.
It was a reminder that the library has been a mainstay in the community since 1920 when four women organized a Women’s Club and led the first book exchange. Then the library was housed in a real estate office in a private home that today houses the Homewood Science Center.
From there, the library moved to the old Illinois Central station in town. The Women’s Club helped organize a vote to establish a library district and raised money to move the station into town and bring it up to standards. The village used that space for 39 years.
As the village of Homewood grew, so did the library. The former train depot gave way to a brick building at 17900 Dixie Highway in 1962. It offered two floors of space, but over time, it too proved too small for the library’s needs.
In 1987, the library board bought property across the street for a new library that tripled the space. Construction began in 1989. The move-in date was Feb. 14, 1990. Patrons and staff thought it was “really big,” said Sharon Lade of Homewood who helped move the books from across the street to the new building. She was hired by the library two weeks later.
The new, spacious library filled in some of its second floor open space with study rooms and meeting rooms and the FORT, a specially designated space for young readers 12 to 18, that was paid for by Friends of the Library used book sale revenues.
The library has kept up with technology. Cards stamped with return dates gave way to scan readers. The card catalog became an online catalog, and the Internet makes searches for general information much easier. Lade remembers when patrons could check out records. They were replaced by audio cassettes and then CDs. Movies on DVD are available.
Lade said the library has “hot spots” for Wi-Fi services, and patrons can use scanners and then go to a computer to send documents by email. The library’s 3-D printers and video equipment give patrons a chance to be creative.
Since its opening, the building’s been refurbished with a fresh coat of paint and new carpeting. In 2019, a family restroom was added to accommodate mothers with young children.