In 1986, Mary E. Rodne oversaw the transformation of the Summit-Argo Public Library into the Summit Public Library District (SPLD). This meant the library would receive taxes from the Cook County instead of the Summit Village board. By the end of 1986, circulation reached 38,000 items.
In December of ’86, Miss Rodne departed to become Director of the Bloomingdale Public Library, a position she held for about sixteen years, and in 2003 became the founding director of the public library in Colleyville, Texas. Mrs. Landek became Interim Librarian again.
Edward Dudke became Library Director in January of 1988. During his tenure, the roof and south wall were repaired and the Maloy Building south of the library was acquired and razed on April 23, 1988 to make way for future expansion.
In November of 1988, the Library Board asked district residents to approve the sale of $875,000 in bonds to fund the construction of an annex building at 6209 Archer Road. The Library Board explained to voters that the State of Illinois no longer provided matching funds under the Build Illinois program. Also, under the Federal Equal Access requirements that were to go into effect in 1990, the existent aisles would need to be widened and the washrooms would need to be altered to be wheelchair-accessible. This referendum came up again in 1989 and was again defeated.
The planned annex was never built. The Library Board determined that a whole new facility was required to meet the needs of the community and the new building standards of the Federal Government. The site of the old Maloy Building was turned into a courtyard and landscaped.
The Library Board found an opportunity to build a new library when a fire in August of 1997 gutted the Goldstine Building at the corner of Archer Road and 62nd Place, as well as the adjacent building to the north. In 2003, the Library Board purchased the now vacant corner lots from Mr. Goldstine, as well as Mary Botz’s tavern north of the existent library.
The tavern and the existent library building were demolished and on April 1, 2003 construction of the new library building started. It was anticipated that the new library would be completed in time for a grand opening in May of 2004.
Due to good weather, the contractors were able to complete the $6,000,000 facility ahead of schedule. With music provided by the Argo High School band and a band from Summit School District 104, the new Summit Public Library opened on February 14, 2004.
The Chicago-based architectural firm of Frye Gillan Molinaro, Architects, Ltd. (FGM) designed the Summit Public Library, completed in June of 2004. This firm also designed the Riverside Public Library extension (completed in 1986) in Riverside, Illinois; the Sun Prairie Public Library (1999) in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin; the Pikes Peak Library District’s Penrose Library (2002/2003) in Colorado Springs, Colorado; the Doris Van Doren and Mission Valley Branches of the El Paso Public Library in El Paso, Texas; the Stephenson Public Library (2008) in Marinette, Wisconsin; the Gail Borden Public Library (2003) in Elgin, Illinois and the Studio 270 Teen Center (2008) in the Gail Borden Public Library; the Poplar Creek Public Library (2009) in Streamwood, Illinois; and the South Wing (2011) of the Detroit Main Library in Detroit, Michigan. The design of the Summit Public Library garnered FGM the 2004 Association of Licensed Architects Design Award (Award of Merit).
Something I find curious is that according to the SPLD, the new SPL is a 16,000-square-foot facility, but according to FGM, it is an 18,190-square-foot facility. Either way, I find it difficult to describe this edifice, except to say it is white, has a lot of windows, and is very futuristic. This building would fit in perfectly in a science fiction film.
Teenagers age fourteen and up can be in the SPL after 6:00 p.m. without adult supervision. However, children under fourteen are required to be in the company of a parent, grandparent, guardian, elder sibling, etc., if they want to stay in or enter the library after six o’clock.
Associate Editor James Pluta reported in the Desplaines Valley News on March 14, 2011 that a meeting was called in the SPL on March 10, 2011 “by local archaeologist and author Robert Kott, a former member of the Argo-Summit/Bedford Park Elementary District 104 School Board.” The purpose of the meeting was “to discuss the possibility of moving the stone Father Marquette marker from where it has stood at the top of the hill in Summit Park to where it originally was located back in 1968.”
One of the people expected to attend the meeting was “Ruth Nelson of Downers Grove, who is writing a new book about the travels of Marquette, who stopped here upon discovering the Portage on his last journey from the Illini Village in 1673.” At the time, at least, the SPL had an exhibit on Fr. Marquette and the monument.
The American Library Association (ALA) selected the SPLD as one of 70 public libraries in 21 states that will each receive a $5,000 grant as part of “The American Dream Starts @ your library®” literacy project. This initiative is funded by the Dollar General Corporation’s Dollar General Literacy Foundation. Country music singer Gretchen Wilson, who earned a GED herself, is the foundation’s national spokeswoman.
The SPLD will use these funds to for literacy services for adult English-language students in Summit. In partnership with Moraine Valley Community College, the SPLD has started English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. They will also expand access to print and digital literacy collections.
The SPLD states, “For more than a century, public libraries have been a cornerstone of the American Dream, providing equal access to information of all kinds. In fact, libraries are among the first American institutions immigrants turn to for help in learning how to read, write and speak English. The 2005 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) found that one in 20 US adults have such limited English skills that they can’t read a news paper or help their children with schoolwork. The Summit Public Library District is proud to be involved in the advancement of literacy for all residents of the Summit community.”
As of August of 2009, Jeff Duley was President of the SPLD Board of Trustees, Lizet Martinez was Vice President, Robert Kott was Treasurer, and Odulia “Lula” Hermosillo was Secretary. The other trustees were Jennifer Johnstone, Chris Pluta, and Anthony Goolsby. Hadiya Drew was Library Director. As far as I know, nothing has changed.
The SPL is open from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturdays. It is closed Fridays and Sundays. The phone number there is (708) 458-1545.