Illinois State Library building celebrates 25 years!

The current Illinois State Library is marking 25 years since its dedication on June 20, 1990. It is located in Springfield across from the Capitol building.

The library had quite a journey since its beginnings in 1839. The collection began in 1819 in Vandalia when Illinois received from Pennsylvania a copy of their state laws. In 1839 the 11th General Assembly passed the State Library Act, with Stephen A. Douglas, the first Secretary of State, heading the State Library. When the state capitol moved to Springfield, rooms were designated in the Old State Capitol for library volumes. They were then relocated to the new Statehouse, and after that to the Centennial (later the Howlett) Building where the collection languished for the next 67 years. Finally, in 1989, library resources found a home in the newly constructed State Library building. The library, made of Indiana limestone, marble floors, and an 80-foot atrium, cost $36 million (under budget by $1 million!). Jim Thompson was Governor; Jim Edgar was Secretary of State at this time; Bridget Lamont was the library director.

A special feature on the building is a frieze with the engraved names of 35 authors. One of those names is that of Gwendolyn Brooks, the Illinois Poet Laureate, who read a poem at the dedication.


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