The earliest efforts to providing a public library can be traced back to 1927 by the Wood Dale Community Club and by offering donated books within space at the Holy Ghost Church in the late 1940s. But little more is known about these attempts to serve the community’s residents.
In spring 1956, citizens from Wood Dale and Bensenville organized a cooperative community library using space made available at Fenton High School, and use was limited to residents of District 100. Local women were trained to serve as librarians. Residents donated books or gave cash to buy them.
Each village later chose to maintain its own library. Under the care of Robert Doane, Adolph Sofka and George and Ruth Welter, the Wood Dale Library opened in a room of the old Highland Public School on the northeast corner of Wood Dale Road and Foster Avenue in 1958. And later in 1959, the library was moved to the clubhouse provided by the Wood Dale Club on Edgebrook and Irving Park Road. But during these initial efforts, the space could only be open two to three times a week, limited by the location and help of volunteers.
The community needed a building of its own. Each family member in Wood Dale was asked to give a $6 donation, which helped raise about $5,600 to pay for the materials. Volunteers helped build the shelves, and the library opened on a village lot at Edgebrook and Irving Park Road in 1960, which for a short time the library shared with the police department. The library operated thanks to volunteers as well as book donations given by schools, area libraries and residents until November 1962 when a referendum was passed, creating a library district supported by citizens living in School District 7.
Although the first building would eventually expand to 3,600 square feet, the growing Wood Dale community would outgrow its first building, and a bond referendum was brought to the voters. While the first attempt was defeated, the library board, stressing the old library could not be expanded, scheduled another referendum in December 1978, which would pass 471 to 442.
After one year of construction, the new library on Wood Dale Road opened in February 1981. Today, the library continues to serve the community and evolve to meet changing needs. In 1980, only 74,000 physical items, such as books, were accessible. Last year, the library made over 424,000 items accessible to patrons, which includes not only items such as books and magazines, but also electronic items to be streamed and downloaded. The staff also helped answer over 30,000 reference questions and welcomed 16,000 people to loan the library’s computers.