The mission of the North Riverside Public Library District is to support the principles of intellectual freedom while meeting the needs of the district’s diverse population by providing materials, programs and services that promote lifelong learning, a love of reading and the pursuit of knowledge.
During the early years of the village, library services had to be obtained through the schools in the area or through the libraries of other villages. The needs of the early North Riverside children seeking library books, however, were met in an improvised library started in Mrs. Byrd March’s home.
In 1949, several local civic groups started to push for a new library for the Village, and the Board of Trustees placed the issue before the voters. Voters defeated the issue 733 to 354. In 1953, the same issue of establishing a library tax was placed before the voters. This referendum was also defeated, 879 to 282.
In November 1958, the North Riverside Women’s Club launched the first Village library. It was located in the basement of the firehouse on Des Plaines and 25th Street. For a while that facility met the needs of the Village, but the collection grew, and in 1968 the Village leased space in a storefront at 26th Street and Hainsworth, where the Library remained until 1974. When the Fire Department moved into their new building, the North Riverside Women’s Club moved the Library to the rear of the then vacant firehouse. The North Riverside Women’s Club volunteers provided all library services up to this time.
In November 1979, plans were finalized to transfer the library operation and collections to the Village. The old firehouse was renovated by the Village to house the new Library, which was opened to the public on March 21, 1981. Furnishings were provided as a result of an earlier memorial gift from the Bursik family, together with additional funds raised by the North Riverside Women’s Club.
In April 1983, the North Riverside Public Library District was established by a referendum vote of 1,136 to 979. An informal agreement between the Village and the Library District allowed the Library to lease the renovated premises it had occupied since 1981 for $1 per month. Later in 1983, the Library District joined the Suburban Library System and began issuing Suburban Library System cards which gave Village residents access to all the libraries in the Suburban Library System.
In December 1985, the Library District purchased these renovated premises from the Village for $10. In 1987, the Library District purchased an adjacent building from the Village for $10 that became known as the Library Annex. In this small structure, children and adult programming took place. Library Board meetings were held there as well.
After several years of discussion, the Library Board asked voters in 1995 to approve a referendum question on the issuance of $2,950,000 in general obligation bonds to construct a new library building. Voters approved the question by a vote of 718 to 645 on November 7 of that year.
A site for the building across the street from the Village Commons was secured following negotiations involving the Village of North Riverside, the Riverside Golf Club and the Cook County Forest Preserve District. Ground was broken in April 1998 and the 22,000 square foot building opened in June 1999.
Board of Library Trustees
The Board consists of seven non-paid members elected to six-year terms.
The Library District’s boundaries are the same as the Village’s. The Library district is a separate governing body and is not associated with the Village of North Riverside governing body.
Population and Library Card Holders
The estimated population of the Library District is 6,688. There are about 4,411 residents holding library cards which represents about 66% of the total population.
The current library building offers about 13,000 square feet of finished library space.
The Library checks out about 48,000 items to adults and about 8,000 juvenile items for 56,000 total
There are 3 full-time staff members, including two Librarians, and 21 part-time staff members, including 3 Librarians and 2 Library Technical Assistants.
The Library materials collection has about 35,000 books, 1800 videocassettes, 2800 audio recordings, over 6,000 magazine and newspaper titles (133 subscriptions), along with other materials-pamphlets, college catalogs, etc.