EVANSTON, ILL. – This month, the Evanston Public Library launches the official celebration of its sesquicentennial – 150 years ago, 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. And 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.
This year, we’ll be celebrating 150 years of connecting our Evanston community to ideas and resources. Celebrate with us! We’ve got lots of ways to connect:
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 ‘Support your local library’ tees, tote bags and mugs, plus find limited edition 150th anniversary designs, too. We’ll be adding new designs throughout the year, and proceeds benefit library programs that extend our reach to parks, schools, community centers and more all throughout Evanston.
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. Join us on April 12 for Encountering Evanston History: A Panel Discussion, with several noted local authors of the recently released Encountering Evanston 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 Read-a-thon 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, and our tax rate is 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 our 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.
Learn more on our 150th Anniversary page at epl.org/150. There you’ll find a complete list of events and celebratory programming, plus highlights from our first 150 years.