15025 S. Illinois St.
Plainfield, IL 60544
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Fri - Sat: 9AM-5PM
Sunday (Sept - May): 1PM-5PM
In 1925, Ebanezer and Celeste Nimmons left an estate of $25,000 to the Village of Plainfield for the establishment of a tax-supported public library. Residents voted to establish the library later that year. The original 750 square foot library, located on Lockport Street, opened its doors in 1926. Click here to view a construction invoice from 1926.
In 1941, a new 2,700 square foot library was built at 705 N. Illinois Street with the proceeds of a bequest from George and Marietta McClester and the remainder of the Nimmons estate.
Ebanezer and Celeste Nimmons
George and Marietta McClester
In 1954, the Village Library received a 160 acre farm in a charitable remainder trust from the estate of Fannie Stratton. The library operated the farm for additional revenue for many years.
In 1977, Plainfield Township created a tax-supported library to serve residents outside of the Village of Plainfield boundaries. The Plainfield Township Library contracted with other local libraries for service. In 1981, the Township Library opened a 900 square foot library located inside Grande Prairie Elementary School.
In 1988, voters approved the merger of the Village and Township libraries, becoming the Plainfield Public Library District. During that year, the Library District sold the Stratton farm and began to plan for the construction of a 27,000 square foot facility. The library purchased residences at 707 and 709 N. Illinois Street in preparation for the expansion.
Voters rejected the first expansion proposal in 1989. The project was scaled back to finish only 13,500 feet of the 27,000 square foot building in the initial phase. Voters approved the second proposal in 1990. Construction of the library addition was one of the first projects to begin following the 1990 tornado. The building was completed in 1991.
In 1993, residents voted down an operating tax rate increase for the library. Also during that year, the Village of Plainfield and library made an intergovernmental agreement requiring areas annexing to the Village to also annex to the library district if the area did not have library service. As a result of the failed operating tax increase, the library cut service hours, eliminated staff positions, and froze the book budget in 1994. Over the next several years, the burgeoning residential building boom in the community allowed the restoration of these services.
In 1997, the lower level was completed using the remainder of the proceeds of the Stratton Farm. That year, the Village completed another intergovernmental agreement allowing the library to collect fees from developers annexing land to the Village.
A 1999 dispute between the Plainfield Library and Village of Plainfield over purchase of property adjacent to the Library building was settled in early 2000. The settlement allowed the Village of Plainfield to purchase the property, to be used immediately for the construction of a parking lot, with the Library retaining the right to purchase the property at a set price in 2010.
The building and population boom in the area took off in the late 1990’s and continued into the new century. In early 2003, Census 2000 figures were finally released – more than doubling the district’s official population and outstripping all prior population estimates. Planning began for a library branch in a joint-use facility with the Plainfield Township Park District, based on a developer donation. However, the developer’s project did not move forward, stalling the project in the planning stage.
In 2004, the interior of the library was remodeled, funded by developer’s fees, to accommodate the changing needs of the community and maximize the use of space in the building. Outreach Services became an independent department within the Library, reflecting the Visioning 2003 plan goal to extend library service to locations outside the library building.
In 2006, the Library’s new Long Range Plan set an approximate timeline for planning a building expansion with a target for expanding the downtown facility when the library is contracted to purchase adjacent land from the Village of Plainfield in 2010. The Long Range Plan goal to increase residents' awareness of the Library and its services led to the creation of the first Marketing Communications Plan in 2007.
Library building consultant Anders Dahlgren of Library Planning Associates worked with the Board of Trustees and Library staff to create a Space Needs Analysis in 2007 and Library Building Program in 2008. These documents formed the basis of the building expansion and operations referendum that was placed on the Spring 2009 ballot. Voters rejected the plan in April 2009.
In 2010, the building bonds from the 1990 referendum were paid off. As had been planned since the 1999 As the economic crisis deepened, the community was surveyed on their priorities for library service in the face of budget cuts. As set forth in the 2000 settlement with the Village of Plainfield, the Library purchased the parking lot to the east of the building in 2010, the final piece needed for any expansion on the Library's current site.
2011 is a planning year for the library - expansion plans are being revised for a future referendum. An interior remodeling plan is under discussion to allow services to continue to meet demand for the next 3-5 years. And this new strategic plan is in development...
In 2010, the Plainfield Public Library District's population of 66,139 residents checked out 756,875 items, asked 58,973 reference questions and logged 49,959 PC sessions at the Library. With only 131,550 items in the Library's collection, the average item was checked out more than 5 times. Over 54,000 people attended a Library program in 2010.