History of Newman Library

The earliest mention of any sort of library in Newman was in 1892.

Mrs. O. B. Ficklin established a library of 114 volumes at an unknown location. In 1909, the Newman Women's Club founded a library for its members. It was open to the public on Friday afternoons and was initially located in the grade school, later moving to the township high school. The library moved to the Presbyterian Church in 1917, where it remained under the Club’s supervision at least until 1926.

Pictured to the right is an image of the Newman Presbyterian Church on a postcard published by "Hapke the Jeweler".

Adolph Hapke, born in Germany but living in the United States from a young age, operated a jewelry store in Newman for many years before heading to Kansas City, Missouri where he had spent his apprenticeship. He later returned to Newman to make it his home during his retirement.

Copy of postcard of First Presbyterian Church Newman; Text at bottom reads "Shaw's Memorial First Presbyterian Church, Newman, Ill. Pub. by Hapke the Jeweler."
Kiwanis International logo; "Serving the children of the world"

The status of the library is unknown for the next ten years, though it may have lapsed for in June 1936 it was announced that Newman Public Library would open under the sponsorship of the Newman Kiwanis Club. This was a joint effort between the local club and the National Works Progress Administration (WPA). In the article announcing the reading rooms in the Presbyterian Church, the Newman Independent stated, “Newman has long needed a good library.” 

The WPA was a program begun in 1935 by the federal government to create jobs during the Great Depression. By partnering with the Kiwanis Club and the Illinois State Library they created a librarian's position in Newman. 

The first librarian was Effie Luallen, a married woman in her mid-forties with two teenage children. Her husband was a straw salesman. She remained librarian until 1962, as far as we can determine. 

In July 1937, the library's supervision transferred from the WPA to the Library Extension Division of the Illinois State Library. Supposedly this brought more opportunities to acquire books and provided better supervision and support. 

As the Depression receded and the WPA-type programs ended in 1942, the community had to make a choice, either lose the library or find another way to fund it. Local citizens and organizations provided interim funds, and a referendum was placed on the spring 1943 ballot for Newman Township . The vote passed with a “good majority” according to the Newman Independent . The first library trustees were: Hortense Swickard, J. H. McIntyre, Effie Fansler, Gladys Lyon, John E. Wax and Rachel Roller. 

The library continued to serve the community under the guidance of Mrs. Virgil Harbaugh from 1972. That same year the library moved to the location at 42 South Broadway. The building was rented and eventually was outgrown. 

When the First State Bank of Newman built a new building, the library board requested the older storefront building at 108 W. Yates Street. We received the building in October of 1998. Renovations to the building were done by Mark Fraser, Dennis Kibler and other community volunteers. The library moved to the new location on April 15, 1999 under the supervision of librarian, Melissa Catron. 

Recognizing that many residents in the area did not have access to a public library, NTL's board of trustees began the process to convert to a district library in March 2006. One month later, the township board voted to permit separation. The conversion was finalized in court at the end of May with an effective date of July 1, 2006.   In April 2007, the area of Murdock Township within the boundaries of Shiloh School District was added to the library district.  The library served these residents in Murdock by appointment with a bookmobile service.

Renee Henry was Librarian from 2003 to 2016. During the latter part of her tenure the library prepared to relocate again but she would not be able to complete that goal personally as Renee changed employment in 2016. Even so, much of the negotiation with the City of Newman regarding the status of the former grade school building was performed under Renee's watch. There had been some discussion even with the school district prior to the city acquiring the building.

Darcie Peck oversaw the move and was the administrator during the final months of the library occupying the former bank through the initial establishment of the physical plant and placement of library resources. Her career at Newman Library continued through summer of 2018.

Matthew Hales was hired as librarian in January of 2019 and remains with the library today.