A look back in time: Hundreds watch as Schaumburg library opens 1998 time capsule

More than 850 patrons looked on Saturday as Schaumburg Township District Library officials took a call from the past and then placed another to the more distant future.

The long-anticipated event saw the opening of a time capsule sealed just after the grand opening of the new central library in Schaumburg in 1998, and the packing of items for another capsule that will be opened in 2073.

Among the attendees were several who had attended the grand opening 25 years ago, as well as a number of youngsters who could be back for the next capsule opening five decades from now.

"We are so grateful to have this moment to share with our community, as we not only look back to a moment of time in 1998, but also continue to look forward to the future and think of those who will be around in another 50 years," library Executive Director Annie Miskewitch said. "We know how much this community treasures this library and I have no doubt we will be even bigger and better in the decades and generations to come."

Miskewitch's predecessor, founding director Michael Madden, reunited Saturday with several of the elected trustees with whom he served for decades.

He'd arrived in 1967 intending to gain a few years before moving on, but instead stayed 42 years. Under his management, the Schaumburg Township District Library grew into the industry leader he'd aspired to work for.

"It's a wonderful place and I really appreciate the 42 years that I spent here," he said.

The contents of the 25-year-old time capsule included a combination of documents about the library, including photos of the building's construction and opening ceremony. The capsule also contained pop culture artifacts, such as a CD of the 1998 Grammy nominees led off by Best New Artist winner Paula Cole singing "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?"

Though longtime trustee Debby Miller died in 2016, the letter she wrote in 1998 as board president was revealed.

"It's extremely difficult to predict the future of this or any other library 25 years hence," Miller said at the time, reflecting on how computers and other information technology had already changed the role of libraries during the 1980s and '90s.

Other items reflecting the time included an edition of the Daily Herald, a village of Schaumburg "Cracker Barrel" newsletter and a New York Times Book Review from 1998. There was even a letter from then U.S. President Bill Clinton respectfully declining an invitation to attend the new building's grand opening.

The 41 distinct items will be displayed at the library through Oct. 23.

The new items to be sealed inside the cornerstone beside the main entrance include: an iPad featuring apps used to access library material; an original picture book with rhymes submitted by the diverse Schaumburg Township community; a book with residents' thoughts on the future of the community, technology and libraries; and letters from Miskewitch and current board President Theresa Seyring.

Back in 1998, it was presumed the contents of the time capsule would be somewhat forgotten and come as a surprise at their reopening in 2023. But with the way technology has changed and will continue to, who's to say the YouTube video of Saturday's event and this article won't be easily accessible to people the day before the next opening in 50 years?

Founding Schaumburg Township District Library executive director Michael Madden, at left, and longtime library Trustee Robert Lyons attend the reopening ceremony for a time capsule they saw sealed into the cornerstone of the then-new library building in 1998. Courtesy of Schaumburg Township District Library
Schaumburg Township District Library Programs and Exhibits Manager Stephanie Driscoll gets the ball rolling by delivering the library's 1998 time capsule for its ceremonial reopening last Saturday. Courtesy of Schaumburg Township District Library
Schaumburg Township District Library officials estimated a crowd of 850 people watched the reopening Saturday of a time capsule sealed in 1998, with about another 300 watching the event live online. Courtesy of Schaumburg Township District Library
Schaumburg Township District Library Executive Director Annie Miskewitch holds up a book of cassettes colored by young patrons bound for a new time capsule that will be opened in 2073. Courtesy of Schaumburg Township District Library
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