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History of the Green Hills Public Library District
Birth of a District
In mid-1962, residents of Palos Hills and
Hickory Hills were discussing creating libraries to serve their
communities. It soon became clear that the best way to support
this goal was to go at it together!
The first meeting of the Green Hills Public
Library Association was on October 2, 1962 at the Walnut Hills
Country Club. The Library Association sponsored a dance on
November 24, 1962 at the Sabre Room to raise money for a
referendum to form a library district. Voters approved the
referendum on December 8, 1962, which officially created the
Green Hills Public Library District. “Green Hills” was chosen as
a neutral name that would not favor the name of one city over
first workroom-library was in a spare bedroom in Mrs. Lila
Ellison Warren’s house. Mrs. Warren, the first librarian, and
Mrs. Lillian Babcock worked with William McKillop, professional
librarian at Tinley Park High School, to organize and begin a
catalog of the first items.
14, 1963, the first Green Hills Library opened at 10714 S.
Roberts Road in Palos Hills. Lillian Babcock
was appointed head librarian in November 1963 but agreed to run
the library “only until they could afford to pay someone.” She
stayed on as head librarian until March 31, 1986!
Library’s first inventory was 2,500 books, of which 1,500 was on
loan from the Illinois State Library. The circulation for the
Library’s first year was 13,190 (nearly 265,000 in 2003).
outgrown the first location, the Library moved into a larger
facility at 10708 S. Roberts Road on October 15, 1966. Shortly
after opening the new location, “Saturday Story Hour” began as a
program for children.
A New Home
as the Library continued to expand and grow, it became clear
that a new location would become necessary. On October 30, 1971
a groundbreaking was held for the building of a new 10,000
square-foot facility at the Library’s current location of 8611
W. 103rd Street. This new Library was built at no
expense to the community because of careful financial planning
by the Board of Trustees.
new building, being planned as a temporary one, underwent its
first remodel in 1975. In order to secure funding for this
project, the Library asked local residents for a bond referendum
to completely fund the $1.75 million price tag of the proposed
project. The residents overwhelmingly rejected the referendum
with a vote of 1504-222. In response to this setback, the Board
of Trustees decided to break the expansion into two different
projects that would be able to address short-term needs of the
Library as well as lower the amount of money needed for the
immediate build. The new smaller project was funded by a
$300,000 mortgage. Included in the project was a second-story
addition to the Library as well as remodeling existing space to
create room for typewriters, micro-film and study areas.
The second half of the expansion project
was completed in 1986. This 6,000 square-foot addition included
a new Children’s Library area, a dedicated Story-Telling/Meeting
room as well as enlarging the adult reading room. To finance
this project, the Board of Trustees approved a $500,000 loan
from Orland State Bank. Additional funds were also provided by a
State Public Library Construction Grant through the Illinois
State Library. As in the past, these upgrades were completed
with no cost to the community.
20 years of continued service from the Library as is, growth was
again necessary. Because of a greater need for funding than
available, the Library considered different options, including
building a new location, as well as reducing hours and cuts to
some services. After five previous referendum attempts failed to
gain enough support for a small tax increase, a new
volunteer-led effort proved successful in 2004.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held on May
20, 2006. The project included a 12,000 square-foot expansion as
well as renovations to the existing space. Other additions
included: a children’s play area, fireplace reading room,
two meeting rooms on the middle level, a “Friends of the
Library” bookshop, expanded parking and a new entrance and
elevator for easier Library access.
A Grand Opening and Open House was held on
April 5, 2008 which included performances by the Stagg High
School Harpist and Jazz Ensemble. In attendance at the Open
House were many dignitaries including (pictured from left)
Michael J. Madigan,
Speaker of the Illinois
Representatives, Annette Armstrong, Library Director, Illinois
House member Kevin Joyce, and Illinois State
Senator Edward Maloney.
Because the latest construction project
came in under budget and because of wishes from the public, the
decision was made to transform the outdated brick exterior that
faces 103rd Street and other portions of the northern
exterior. It was quickly determined that the best approach for
this redesign would be one that showcased an environmentally
A rain garden was created that collects
water to irrigate the library grounds. A vegetable garden and
outdoor children’s reading area were also added to foster
In addition, murals were created both
outside and inside the library that incorporated designs from
The library was surprised by a visit from
Illinois State Librarian (and Secretary of State) Jesse White at
the installation of new board member Sherman Pascasio in 2007.
Pictured with Secretary White are Board Members (from left): Rick
Kelleher, Joann Jackson, Jesse White, Sherman Pascasio, Steve
Culen, Rosemary Schick, Noula Angelos, and John Howley.
Other history files available for research:
(requires Adobe Reader, download free at: http://get.adobe.com/reader/)
- History of the City of Palos Hills,
published by the Palos Hills Historical Association, 1978
- Hickory Hills: Rural Area to Urban
Fringe (includes history of the city's founding), by Susan Venezio, 1976
- The Forts of Palos, by William L.
- Information on
Grand Opening &
Open House Invitation, 2008
Opening Program Booklet, 2008
Grand Opening Celebration, 2010