A public library was proposed by the Columbia Woman’s Club in 1951. The group helped bring the bookmobile from Springfield to the Columbia schools in the early 1950s, and in 1958, a public library was established on the top floor of city hall.
The current library was built in 1976 where an old electric plant and pond used to be. It was financed by Friends of the Library members putting their homes up as collateral. An addition in 1994 doubled the size of the building. More recent renovations have focused on a new children’s collection area, a reorganized main floor, and new carpet and tile.
The library is a member of the Illinois Heartland Library System, which provides delivery, automation (online catalog software) to the libraries of southern and parts of central Illinois, and talking book services, as well as certain grant program services, to libraries statewide. IHLS covers 28,141 square miles and serves a population of 2,248,634. There are 585 member libraries: 41 Academic, 229 Public, 259 School and 56 Special.
We are also members of SHARE (Sharing Heartland’s Available Resources Equally), the automation consortium within IHLS.
SHARE is a collection of libraries in central and southern Illinois that have joined together to form the largest automation consortium in the country. There were many reasons to develop this consortium, including the ability to share the cost of purchasing an integrated library system, staff, technical support, and training.
What this means is that member libraries share the cost of maintaining an expensive, but highly necessary, technology that makes the end-users experience more enjoyable. All of those services that patrons have come to expect wait lists, speedy checkouts, and online catalogs happen because of this technology.
The size of the consortium means that our patrons have access to almost 10,000,000 items, which they can order from their home library, their home computer, or their mobile device, and have delivered within days to the Columbia Public Library via the IHLS courier service.
Directors/Head Librarians of the Columbia Public Library
1958 – 1976 Jean Henderson & Marion Thompson
1976 – 1986 Jean Henderson
1986 – 1992 Jean Frank
1992 – 2000 Wanda Ketron
2000 – 2008 Linda Maus
2009 – 2012 Erica Pyle
2013 – 2016 Britta Krabill 2017 – present Annette Bland