Celebrating 150 years of connecting

150th Logo

In 2023, the Evanston Public Library will be celebrating 150 years of connecting our Evanston community to ideas and resources. Celebrate with us!

On April 15, 1873, Evanstonians voted to fund a free public library. The vote was unanimous – 337 for, 0 against. It levied a tax of $2 per $1,000 of property tax value annually. Later that summer, the new library board met to receive the assets of the former Evanston Library Association and make them free for the public – all 932 volumes. We’ve come a long way in 150 years, but always with the same mission: connecting Evanstonians to the resources in their community. 

Celebrate with us! We’ve got lots of ways to connect:

150th Anniversary Open House and Reception on Oct. 14th

In celebration of our 150th year of connecting Evanstonians to the resources available in their community, EPL is hosting an Open House on Saturday, Oct. 14. Drop by the Main Library or the Robert Crown Branch for events throughout the day. Here’s just a sample of what’s happening at our Main Library:

  • Score freebies like limited-edition bookmarks, and enter a raffle for one of our ‘I Read Banned Books’ tees. 
  • Go on a library scavenger hunt – we’ve got them for kids and adults!
  • Explore a crafty new hobby. Teens can use our button maker, and adults are invited to explore the art of origami hands on. 
  • Learn about Evanston’s history.  We’ll be throwing open the doors to our Evanstoniana room. 
  • Discover Evanston authors. Pick up our 150 Evanston Authors guide and see our curated collection of locally authored books. 
  • Get reading recommendations from your neighbors with our latest community book picks on display. 
  • Meet board members and volunteers and learn how you can participate more in your library. 

Plus join us for scheduled programming at both locations:

  • Repair Cafe. We’ll be fixing your stuff at our wildly popular repair clinic! Sign up for a timeslot with one of our volunteers to repair your small appliances, toys, garments, jewelry, books, electronics, knives and more. Robert Crown, 10 a.m. all ages
  • Eclipse Watch Party! Check out the annular eclipse with safe viewing gear. Main Library sidewalk, 10:30 a.m. kids
  • Birthday Storytime. Celebrate 150 years with stories of birthdays and counting. Robert Crown, 10:30 a.m. kids
  • Community Art Project. Paint with us and contribute to our next art installation. Robert Crown, 1-3 p.m. all ages
  • Gaming Tournament. Go head-to-head with your friend for a chance at glory on Super Smash Brothers, Mario Kart, Just Dance and more. Main Library, 1-3 p.m. teens

Thank You Reception

The public is also invited to the 150th anniversary’s capstone event, a Thank You Reception from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Community Room of the Main Library for our entire Evanston Public Library community. The reception will feature a program on the Library’s collaboration with Shorefront Legacy Center to fully digitize the Evanston Newsette and the Evanston Review and desegregate a portion of our city’s history. Join us and allow Evanston Public Library to express our gratitude for the role our community members play in making our work possible.

Go behind the scenes!

Curious about how a library really works? Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Main Library at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., or 3 p.m. and learn more about what it takes to bring you all the books and programs you love. 

Order your EPL swag

The Evanston Public Library has opened an online swag store with styles that celebrate EPL’s commitment to intellectual freedom and access to books and ideas. Get your ‘I read banned books’ and ‘Literacy & Justice for All’ tees, tote bags and mugs online at epl.org. 

A limited number of our most popular tees will be available at a discount at the Main Library during the Open House event, where we’ll also have giveaways for participating in our open house festivities. Proceeds benefit library programs that extend our reach to parks, schools, community centers and more all throughout Evanston.

Visit the EPL Swag Shop

Visit our online shop for tees, buttons, totes and more, celebrating the Evanston Public Library!

Shop now.

Explore Evanston history 

As the heart of our diverse community, the Evanston Public Library’s history is deeply entwined with the history of all of Evanston. Read about our own 150-year history, and watch for announcements later this year when our new digital newspaper database launches. 

Get out and do 150 things with us this summer

We’ll be at parks, beaches, community centers and block parties with 150 things to do this summer. Pick up your 150 Things to Do with EPL guide starting this May, then make a plan to read, learn, and explore all over Evanston. 

Read with the PEPL at the Read-a-thon

This September, the Partners of the Evanston Public Library, the 501c3 that supports the Library through fundraising and awareness, will host a Readathon throughout the community. Learn more about the PEPL and how you can join in their mission at eplpartners.org.

Dig into a good book from an Evanston author

The Evanston Public Library will be celebrating 150 Books by Evanston Authors. Pick up a guide this fall or drop by our Oct. 14 Open House to see our curated collection of locally authored books.

Make something new in our Teen Loft Makerspace

Our teen librarians will be giving away 150 things crafted on our laser cutter and other makerspace tech. From embroidery to zines, our teen patrons have opportunities to make and create all year long. 

Find 150-themed activities for the little ones

Visit our children’s department – recently named one of the Best Children’s Libraries in Chicagoland – where we’ll be counting to 150 in all kinds of ways. 

Tell us how EPL keeps you connected and win!

Snap a pic at the Main Library, Robert Crown Branch, or at any of our summer park programs, tell us what you connect to at the Library, and tag us on Instagram or Facebook with #EPL150 for a chance to win an item of your choice from our swag shop. We’ll pick one winner a month at random. While you’re on our social media pages, be sure to thank our Evanston community partners we’ll be highlighting throughout the year. 

Join the campaign

The Evanston Public Library relies on the generosity of our community members who go above and beyond to donate to the Library – more than 13 percent of our revenue comes from non-tax sources. This year, we’re launching a $150,000 campaign to fund programs and services that keep you connected – consider making a gift in honor of the next 150 years.

Mark your calendar for our 150th open house weekend

Our 150th Anniversary celebration culminates in an open house happening Oct. 14 at both the Main Library and Robert Crown Branch, and it’s the perfect opportunity to discover everything you didn’t know your Library does. Sample some of our most popular programs, get a behind-the-scenes tour, and discover services you never knew the library offered. 

Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.

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