Our History

Millie M. LewisContinuous library service has been provided to Elsberry residents since at least 1920.  The first librarian was Ms. Millie Lewis and the collection was kept in the front room of her home on Broadway (the site of the current senior center).  Upon Ms. Lewis’ departure the PEO club made sure library service continued in a private residence on 3rd Street near the Vann store building.  Ms. Jessie Black became the 2nd regular librarian and again the collection was moved to a residence on Fourth Street across from the old grade school.  Mary Fox Cannon took over from Ms. Black.  The library moved again to an upstairs room in the Odd Fellow Building sometime after 1930 and was run by Mrs. Anne Palmer.  

    In 1963 the collection was installed at the Old City Hall on 4th Street.  Mrs. Aldulia Chamberlain took charge and was assisted by Barbara Howard.  Librarians at that location included Barbara Howard, Mrs. Frances Mallinckrodt, Barbara James, Judy Palmer, and Jean Worley.

    The next move for the library was in 1981 to the corner of 4th and Broadway (Movie Time Video location).  The Bank of Lincoln County offered the space rent-free for five years.  At this time the collection was catalogued with the help of Julie Wayman, Gracie Hill, and Kathryn Ricks.  Mrs. Shirley Davis took over the job of librarian in 1982.  From 1982 to 1990 the library was run by volunteers depending on moneymaking projects, donations, and a small annual allowance from the city for utilities.

    On Monday March 20, 1989 long time resident Ms. Margaret Palmer changed the face of library service in Elsberry forever by announcing that she would build The Joseph R. Palmer Family Memorial Library in memory of her parents, Joseph and Florence Copher Palmer and her brother George Palmer.  The building was to be located at 502 Broadway.  The new library was designed by LePique and Orne Architects of St. Charles and built by Friese Construction Company.  Upon completion of construction in June, 1990 Ms. Palmer deeded the building to the city to be used as a public library.

    The Elsberry Public Library Board agreed to move their collection to the new building and continue offering service there.  Ms. Palmer provided a stipend to purchase books and to pay staff.  She stipulated that library service must be provided free to anyone who asked for a library card.  Librarian Sarah Hunt was hired and has been assisted through the years by Elaine Howard, Donna Bange, Carol Mayes, and Kathryn Ricks.  

    In 1999 seeing a need to expand services for youth and computer access, the library board undertook a successful fundraising effort to add a new wing to the building.  In just three months enough money was donated by local citizens and businesses to complete a large new youth area.  This section of the building was also designed by LePique and Orne and was built by Collins Construction of Elsberry.

    Today the library serves the entertainment and research needs of Elsberry and the many small towns in Lincoln and Pike County.  The library offers free internet access, a large collection of children and youth materials as well as current bestsellers and a large fiction collection for pleasure reading.
© Copyright 2017, Joseph R. Palmer Family Memorial Library. All Rights Reserved. Designed By Periscope Perspectives

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