Happy Holidays to the Rochelle community! If you get the chance, drive by the front of the 1912 building. It is decorated with beautiful white lights, packages and trees.
We were honored to have the Rochelle Township High School Madrigals sing on our porch for the Annual Downtown Rochelle Christmas Walk last Friday. The ambience of the evening was spectacular. The porch had a beautiful glow and guests enjoyed the lovely carols.
Now for some library history.
“Andrew Carnegie donated over $56 million dollars for the construction of 2,509 library buildings throughout the English-speaking parts of the world.
In those days, $56 million dollars bought a lot of library, when one considers the original library building, a gem of modern architecture, cost only$10,000 in 1912.
Carnegie’s support of public libraries and other educational institutions reflected his belief that rich men should use their resources to provide facilities for people of lesser means to improve themselves. During his lifetime, he gave more than $333 million dollars, over 90 percent of his fortune, for what he called, ‘the improvement of mankind.’
Carnegie was particularly aware of libraries because of his own background. His father had encouraged his fellow weavers in a small town in Scotland to pool their money to buy books. One would read aloud while the others worked. Their collection of books became the first circulating library in town. Carnegie referred to his father as a library-founding weaver.
The fireplace is somewhat unusual for a Carnegie library because Carnegie did not approve of fireplaces in libraries. He noted that the wall space occupied by a fireplace could provide shelving for 500-600 books. He also noted that the fireplace only benefited a few people in the immediate vicinity and the rest of the room would not profit much by its warmth.” (Nov. 27, 1973 Flagg Township Library history binder).
We are so thankful that Andrew Carnegie chose Rochelle to build the library that we still have today. It has a timeless history that adds to our current community atmosphere. Our original building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. See you at the library!
Sarah Flanagan is the director of the Flagg-Rochelle Public Library District.