The new Free Public Library of the Town of Elgin in 1874 was located on the third floor of a bank in downtown Elgin. Library customers were not allowed to "browse" through the collection of 2,000 books -- instead they waited for a librarian to bring their requested book to the circulation desk.
Today's Gail Borden Public Library District opens its doors to more than 1 million visitors each year. Those visitors are welcome to browse more than 500,000 library materials in person or via the library's online catalog that allows library users to reserve books, movies or other materials from their homes.
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Among other changes in 140 years -- the library serves not only Elgin residents but also residents in South Elgin and portions of Hoffman Estates, Streamwood and Bartlett -- a total of 144,597.
Those changes and many more will be the focus of the 140th anniversary celebration to take place from 4 to 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 19, at the Main Library, 270 N. Grove Ave., Elgin.
The event will feature time-traveling librarians, birthday cake, photo mural and timeline, story video and more. Gail Borden himself will make an appearance.
The main library, which opened in 2003, is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday; (847) 742-2411. The Rakow Branch, at 2751 W. Bowes Road in Elgin opened in 2009, is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday; (847) 531-7271. Visit www.gailborden.info.