Dreams are visionary ideas, and many of today's realities were once yesterday's dreams. The present Antioch Public Library District is larger, more fully equipped, better staffed, and more conveniently located than the founders could have imagined. The same dedication to new ideas and future realities remain today.
The Antioch Library began as an Antioch Women's Club project in 1921. The six women given credit for this project are Nellie Brogan, Eleanor Hughes, Della Matthews, Edna Warriner, Mary Watson, and Nellie Aiegler. There is a second account of the planning committee that also lists Miss Alice Smith as a planning member "by invitation". These women raised money in the community by selling candy in the lobby of Percy Chinn's Theatre. The community donated books, and a large card party was held at the Lake Catherine home of Mrs. W.H. Howe to raise additional funds. This first library was located at 934 Main Street in Walter Chinn's Newspaper and Magazine Shop, and was only open two days a week. Because of a Scarlet Fever epidemic in the early years of the Library's existence, all the books in circulation had to be destroyed and the Library had to be restocked. The women overcame this tragedy and continued with the project. However, it was to be almost fifty years before the final location of the Library was established.
In 1922, Mrs. Warriner got permission to move the Library to the Antioch Village Hall at 875 Main Street. The Library was on the second floor; the jail was on the first floor. Patrons could hear "rattling bars" when prisoners were in residence and on days of fire calls the "bells clanged" from the fire trucks. Members of the Women's Club served alternating turns as librarians without pay.
By 1924, the Library was taken over by the Village, and Miss Stanley was hired in 1926 as Librarian. In 1929, a Library Board was formed, and by 1930 the Library moved to the Antioch Grade School at the corner of Main Street & Depot. In June of 1937 the Library became a township library and since that time has been financed with property taxes.
The first meeting of the official Antioch Township Library Board was held on June 15, 1937. In 1939, the second floor of Elm's building at 896 Main Street was leased as the library site. It was during this time that Betty Lu Williams joined the library staff. In 1941, the Library again moved across Main Street to 883 Main. After Miss Stanley resigned in 1942, Betty Lu Williams served as librarian until 1945 when Marion Rigby was hired. The traveling library was in its second to present home.
In 1950, the William Schroeder family donated the land at 757 Main Street to be the final site of the Library. On this property had been the home of Edgar Williams. Local businessmen helped restore the home on the property, and Antioch citizens helped to move the books and equipment to the new location. The renovated home housed the Library until 1970 when the new building, the first in Antioch to be built expressly for a library, was officially opened. By that time, Betty Lu Williams was the head librarian, and she was very active in planning for this new library. After Betty Lu Williams retired in 1982, Kathy Labuda became Library Director. In 1989, the Library became a District. This change enabled the Board to have more control over the budget and to include areas not served in its borders.
On July 1, 1989 the Township Library became a separate taxing district, when by mutual resolution with the Township, the Library became independent. This action was taken to allow the service area to grow beyond the Township. The newly born Antioch Public Library District now expands into Upper Newport Township and presently serves 17,285 people.
In August of 2001 the library began an 18,000 square foot addition. the addition was completed in September of 2002 when the existing library moved in and the remodeling of the original 13, 000 square feet began. The whole project was completed in January of 2003. The total cost of this project was $3,228,295.
Through all these changes, the library remains committed to community service. Continuing the expansion of these services is our goal for the future. Truly, today's visionary dreams may become tomorrow's reality.
This, too, follows the tradition.