History

Peru’s first library was started in 1886 and supported entirely by fees paid by library borrowers. The German Association Library also hosted a fee based library about the same time. In 1910 the two libraries joined to form the Peru Public Library, funded by local property tax dollars. We celebrated our Centennial throughout 2010.

The Peru Public Library requested and was awarded a $15,000 Carnegie Grant to build a library facility in 1910. The Peru Public Library’s facility was built on Putnam Street, opening on 1 December 1911 with a collection of 2,000 books. In 1953 the historical room was open on the second floor and the children’s room moved to the lower level.

After serving the community for 74 years, the Putnam Street building was not adequate for community needs, so plans were made to build a new facility. As before, a matching grant was requested and awarded from the Illinois State Library. The new building, completed in 1986, is located on 11th Street, next to Washington Park.

The Peru Public Library has a collection of over 40,000 items available for borrowing by the residents of Peru. The library provides residents a lending collection of various media formats. Books were the first items purchased, and remain popular. Other early and enduring formats are magazines and newspapers. Records were added to the lending collection in 1950/51. Other additions included VCR cassettes, audiobooks, large print, music CD’s, DVD’s, full text databases and e-books.

Since 1910, the library has been an active member of the community. Some of the events and activities hosted by the library include:

• During the 1950’s, the Peru Library Experimental Theater, led by Librarian Dorothy Bieneman, presented interpretive readings and plays.

• The library has hosted displays of local artists and national touring exhibits, such as Produce for Victory in 1995

• Children’s storytimes have been a regular library feature for nearly 100 years.

• Regular programs include Fiber Group, Tech Savvy Teens, Teen Gaming Night and Children’s Storytime among others. Our first Open Mic Night was held in 2010.

• Public computers were added in the 1990’s; currently we have 12 adult and 2 juvenile computers. Free WiFi is also offered to patrons.

Librarians

  • Fanny Snyder           1911-1939
  • Evelyn Ball                1940-1942
  • Amy Plym                  1943-1944
  • Dorothea Hess Gillmann 1943-1950
  • Dorothy Bieneman 1951-1973
  • Kenneth Hansen      1973-1982
  • Mary S. Hahne (Interim) 1982-1983
  • Carl Berry                  1983-1986
  • Carol Bird                  1986-1989
  • David Green             1989-1996
  • Marydale Stewart    1996-2005
  • Mary Jean Hauger  2007-2010
  • Charm Ruhnke        2010-