Mrs. Genevieve Long was elected President of the new Sandwich Township Public Library Board of Trustees. Pauline Newton, the first Librarian, earned a starting salary of $50 a month. Her dog, Skipper, was her companion at work as well as home. Ms. Newton would remain Librarian for about half a century.
This is yet another example of a social library founded by a woman’s club that transformed into a public library. In this way, it is like the Algonquin Area Public Library District, the Arlington Heights Memorial Library, the Atwood-Hammond Public Library District, the Barrington Area Public Library District, the Berwyn Public Library, Brighton Branch of the Boston Public Library, the Downers Grove Public Library, the Glenside Public Library District, the Houston Public Library, the Indian Trails Public Library District, the La Grange Public Library, the Lisle Library, the Quincy Public Library, the Riverside Public Library, the Rogers park branch of the Chicago Public Library, the Valparaiso Library, and the Woodridge Public Library, previously profiled.
On Wednesday, September 25, 1940, a fire consumed the Sandwich Township Public Library and its collection of 10,000 volumes. The second iteration of the Sandwich Township Public Library, and the third overall, was a 4,780-square-foot brown-brick building with a portico that stood at 107 East Center Street.
The cost of construction was financed through a $25,000 bond. It was furnished thanks to $5,000 in donated funds.
The lower level started out as a community room. It included a stage, kitchen, and fireplace.
The balcony was added in 1956. This level included the Librarian or Library Director’s office.
Ten years later, in 1966, Ms. Newton retired. Alberta Barker, her replacement, served as Librarian until 1975.
The third Librarian, Joanne Johnson, served from 1975 to 2000, which is also a long time, but only half as long a tenure as Ms. Newton. By the time Ms. Johnson retired, her title was Library Director.
In 1970, the Children’s Library moved to the lower level. The Sandwich Township Public Library gained carpeting in 1971 and ‘75. Jennifer Burke retired as Library Director in 2013. She was replaced by Sarah Horne, who had been Director of the Lyons Public Library for nearly twelve years.
Ms. Horne heard about the job opening through the Reaching Across Illinois Library System (R.A.I.L.S.). She earned her professional degree at Dominican College (now Rosary University).
Built in 1941 to house 15,000 volumes, by 2012 the library housed 34,000 books, DVDs, audio cassette tapes and CDs, and periodicals. According to the S.P.L.D., “The library had structural failure in 2004.”
In a Valley Life article, Jeff Engelhardt explained, “For Sandwich, the new facility was needed to save an important community resource, said library board president Nancy Sanders, as the existing library is falling apart. In 2004, sagging second-story floors collapsed under the weight of library materials. The library was built to support 15,000 books but housed more than 34,000 books, DVDs, periodicals and other materials.”
Both the Main and Youth Services Entrances of the Old Library were inaccessible to people in wheelchairs. The entrance to the Youth Services department was totally inaccessible to patrons in wheelchairs. Patrons with walkers or on crutches would have only been able to ascend or descend the stairs with difficulty.
In the Old Library, the steep stairs up to the Emergency Exit would have been problematic for anyone in a wheelchair, with a walker, or on crutches. The fire escape on the Old Library could not hold more than one person at a time.
The staircase that connected second-floor Adult Services to the first-floor Youth Services was dimly lit and steep. This was also true of the stairwell up to the Library Director’s office and balcony was dimly lit and steep.
Both the ceiling and outer wall leaked in the Youth Services department. The walls in the Adult Services department also leaked. Due to water leakage, the S.P.L.D. staff had to remove many moldy books that obviously were no longer safe for patrons or staff members to handle.
The Old Library also only had one washroom. Both the sewer connection and the plumbing were defective.
The Board of Trustees considered the acquisition of an existent building before they chose to build a new library. While the old library was in the Beaux Arts style (at least in terms of the façade), the new library – the third iteration as a public library and the fourth overall – has a rustic aesthetic similar to the Bensenville Community Library.
Last December, when the Daily Chronicle’s Debbie Behrends asked how involved she was in the construction of the new library, Ms. Horne answered, “I’m involved in the finishing details – how the interior will look, colors, surfaces, the public meeting room, how the reference and circulation desks will look, computers for public use. Structurally, the building is all set.”
In 2012, 42,588 people used the Sandwich Public Library (or rather people used it that many times). It lent 47,260 items.
As of October 18, 2014, the Sandwich Public Library had 29,625 volumes, an annual circulation of 52,601 transactions, and served a population of 7,401 residents, according to statistic compiled by Marshall Breeding. Those statistics may be dated, though, since Breeding’s libraries.org profile of the S.P.L.D. lists the old address and Ms. Burke as the Director. A member of the R.A.I.L.S., the S.P.L.D. stated, “We are a member of PrairieCat, an online catalog of 200 libraries and Omni Overdrive, an online catalog for downloadable e books and e audiobooks.”
 It is difficult to renovate and refit an office building or a mansion, etc. into a public library because the floors of most buildings will not accommodate the weight of so many books.