The Library has come a long way in the course of its history, thanks in large part to Andrew Carnegie. After its founding on December 29, 1874, the library moved from the Village Hall basement to the Waterworks Building, and then into two rooms in the Village Hall. In 1904, Andrew Carnegie responded to a petition from the Library Board for the construction of Maywood’s first library building. Mr. Carnegie contributed $12,500 for the erection of the building after the Village guaranteed $1250.00 annually for the maintenance. This amount was not sufficient for the heating, lighting and furnishing of the building, so Mr. E.T. Hughes, Chairman of the Building committee, secured the issue of $45,00.00 in liberty bonds to provide for all the necessary equipment.
The Maywood Public Library was officially dedicated in April 1905. On March 31, 1906, the newly erected Carnegie library building was officially open to patrons. At that time the library’s book collection comprised 4648 volumes with a circulation of 19,016 books a year and 883 registered patrons. As the library began to grow, Maywood opened a branch in Garfield School on Friday, November 14, 1924. On August 18, 1928 a new branch was opened on 17th Avenue in a real estate office. This grew so rapidly that on November 10 a store was rented on 17th Avenue where the branch operated successfully for 68 years.
Eventually the Carnegie building erected in 1905 became inadequate. Members of the Library Board, namely: Walter E. Swanson, President, Mrs. Robert Van Pelt, Mrs. Leo Shelley, Robert Dewar and Mrs. T.C. Clark, with the assistance of the Village Board, made an application to the Governor for a PWA grant to assist in the financing of the remodeling of the library building. Mr. Van Gunten drew up the plans. The Board received confirmation of the acceptance of the project in October 1936 after considerable correspondence with Illinois legislators and many interviews with Mr. Van Gunten during his temporary residence in Washington.
Upon completion of the project, for the first time in its history, Maywood had an entire building for library purposes. The building included an attractive children’s room; a school room for duplicate books which were to be sent to the school classrooms; an intermediate room for young people; a cataloging room and board room on the 2nd floor; a reading and reference room on the 1st floor with space for additional books, magazines and newspapers; and a community room for organizational meetings and community projects. The cost of the remodeling was approximately $27,000. The building housed 20,000 books for 7,600 registered patrons with a circulation of 114,500 books and periodicals. In 1960, an inside renovation job was funded by a philanthropic Maywoodian.
The estate of Fred Volkmann, former library board member, donated $95,000 to the library. In 1970 the Library had more renovations. The Maywood Library District was created by an election in 1991 in order to ensure future funding for the Library. In 1998, a new annex was opened to the public. The new facility was designed by Ross, Barney & Jankowski architects and won the 1999 Distinguished Building Award from the American Institute of Architects Chicago.
The old Carnegie Library was restored to its original condition with meeting rooms, a Local History/Board room as well as administrative offices. The new annex and the Carnegie building together comprised 43,000 square feet of space. The Library opened a new computer center on the first floor for the public in March 2003, after receiving $23,000 through the State Commerce and Community Affairs grant secured through a member initiative by 7th District State Representative, Karen Yarbrough, of Maywood.