How does a library get started?  Hear Noralee Buntin's account of the beginnings of our library.

I Am Palestine...

Palestine Public Library District History and Genealogy of Palestine, IllinoisPalestine Public Library District History

When the search for a Civic Improvement Project was being sought by the Woman's Club in May 1973, the club could think of no better idea than a library. At that time, the town's only library was in the grade school, run two days a week during the summer months by the school teachers.

With the permission of the Robinson Daily News editor, the late Kent Lewis, it was decided to open a small reading center June 1, 1973, in the Daily News office. When the community was approached for book donations, the donations were so overwhelming that the opening of the reading center was held up until September 1. Membership cards were sold for $1 for adults and $ .50 for students.

In April 1977 the library became a reality when the residents of LaMotte Township approved the LaMotte Township Library, which in 1986 became a district library and the name changed to Palestine Public Library District. In November of 1988 Montgomery, Precinct 2, joined the library district.

When another building was needed to hold the always increasing book collection, the old Hare Grocery on Main Street was leased from Mayor Carroll McDaniel, with the rent to go towards the purchase of the building. The building cost $6,000 and the lease was signed June 1, 1978. The library remains in the same building and in 1995 was put on the National Historic Register, along with 26 other buildings on Main Street.

In 1990, a new addition was built on which became the elementary/juvenile room. In 1995, with funds from a Mary Heath grant, the library doubled the adult bookshelf space when new metal bookshelves were installed in the adult section and aisles were widened for handicapped accessibility. In 1996, the library widened the restroom and installed new fixtures to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

At this time, through a memorial gift, furniture for a reading room was purchased. In December 1997, through Mary Heath and Silas & Ruth Claypool grants, the library purchased new children's bookshelves, doubling the bookshelf space in the children's room. A television, VCR, television cart, and other children's furnishings were also purchased. In 1998, with funds from an Illinois State Library grant, the library replaced the circulation desk with a comprehensive circulation desk with a 29" high circulation/registration module for handicapped accessibility and blacktopped the back parking lot for patron, staff, and handicapped parking.

In June, 2003, the library finished the project of automating the library's material. The project was funded through two Mary Heath Foundation Grants, a Silas & Ruth Claypool Foundation Grant, and a Bill & Melinda Gates Grant. In December, 2004, the library was awarded $2,070 to fund the project of purchasing a website and software to make the library's book, video and audio collection accessible on the Internet.

In June, 2009, construction of a new library was begun at 201 S. Washington Street. The new building has a total of 5,131 square feet, more than doubling the previous building of 2,374 square feet. Construction was completed April, 2010. The total cost of the building project was $767,306. Construction was possible because of a very generous gift of $550,000 from Don & Inez Winter in 2007. With that gift, the board began fundraisers and, thanks to our many friends, the library was able to raise most of the remaining funds. At the time the building was finished, the library only needed to borrow $23,000.

Sue Lockhart, librarian for 26 years and Director for 21 years retired in 2012. Her accomplishments are evident in the quality of the library that she left behind. The driving force behind the beautiful building, shelves, furnishings, technology, programming, and the spirit of the place all speak to the dedication, labor, and joy that came forth through her service to the public. She will be dearly missed as our Director but has been thankfully received as our patron.

On May 7, 2012, Laurel Adams was hired as the new director.

On November 29, 2012, the library joined Southern Illinois Libraries on the Go eBook lending service through Overdrive, enabling patrons to check out ebooks and various other electronic materials. This endeavor was funded by private donations and the Mary Heath Foundation Grant of 2012.


History of Palestine, Illinois​

History of the library



P:  618.586.5317  E:  F:  618.586.9711

The local Central Wabash Archaeology group meets regularly to dig up the past.  Check out their newsletters at the library!

Digital History of Crawford County, Illinois

Local History and links


Mon, Wed, Fri

10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Tues & Thurs

10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

​Closed Sat & Sun

Palestine is so rich in history- it's falling out of the rafters!  Literally...Cindy Sparks found these photo albums in her home and has donated them to the library.  They date back at least 100 years and the binding on one of them is a work of art; rapidly deteriorating- but beautiful.  The images will be scanned and made available to the public.  Have photos of your own to share?  Visit the library.