Bloomingdale Public Library History

During the late 1960s, Bloomingdale was a flourishing residential community with growing needs; village planners and concerned citizens took action to address those needs.

Bob Meyers, then mayor of Bloomingdale, appointed residents Caroline Schweitzer, Dominic Froio, and Frank Johnson to look into the development of a library. Based on their recommendations, the Village Board passed a resolution to create a Library Study and Advisory Committee. In January of 1973, the committee, comprised of Caroline Schweitzer, Harold Tompkins, Jan Cline, Sally Henning, Ann Marie Bond, Ruth Fiedler, Gail Anne Plinske, and Kathy Knable - who later resigned and was replaced by Ron Howe - conducted studies on funding, organizing, and acquiring books.

The advisory committee’s findings, affirming that the village would support a public library, were submitted to the village board in September of 1973.

In January of 1974, the village established "Friends of the Library" to promote a library for Bloomingdale. The first president of the Friends was Carol Brodersen. Friends of the Library, lobbied for passage of a referendum, sponsored a library flag design contest, and held fundraisers, benefits, and book drives. Outstanding active and financial support was received from all segments of the community. The Marklund Children’s Home of Bloomingdale provided space for material acquisition and preparation.

In June of 1974, a seven-member library board was elected, and a referendum was passed that enabled them to establish a levy to determine the tax rate for the planned library. The tax rate was not to exceed $.15 per $100 of equalized assessed valuation.

The library's first board of directors were Karen Taylor, president; Marie Friscia, secretary; Ron Howe, finance and budget; Ann Marie Bond, library facility; Sandy Roth, library services; Gail Anne Plinske, library supplies; and Carolyn Somerville, DuPage Library System liaison.

Campanelli Builders, Inc., developer of the Fairfield area of Bloomingdale, donated a parcel of land and prepared a portion of the site for the new library. Two mobile classrooms, which provided 1,600 square feet of usable space, were purchased from the Glendale Heights school district for $3,000. They were placed at the corner of Bloomingdale Road and Fairfield Way. Landscaping and many of the initial furnishing for the first library were provided through donations.

In February of 1975, the staff, consisting of full-time librarian Sue Schlaf and one part-time assistant, moved into the facility. Library services were limited to issuing library cards with DuPage Library System validation until June of 1975. The library was dedicated on June 9 and opened its doors with a collection of 4,500 adult and juvenile books, a staff of three, and over 30 volunteers providing 28 hours of service each week.

Within six months, the Bloomingdale Public Library was selected as an "All-Star Library" by the Illinois Library Association (ILA). Statewide, only four libraries were so honored that year.

ILA judges noted it took only one year from passage of the referendum approving the library to the opening of a fully operating facility. Other considerations cited were the Library Board's continued efforts to implement the standards established by ILA, the numerous activities sponsored for children and adults, and the policies and philosophy established by the board.

As Bloomingdale continued to grow, so did its need for expanded library services. A second referendum was proposed in February 1978 to enlarge the size of the library and its collection. That referendum, seeking approval of a $940,000 bond issue, was defeated 552 to 427.

In the spring of 1978, Sue Schlaf resigned from her position as head librarian, and Joanne Spector was hired as her replacement. By the beginning of 1979, the paid staff had grown to five and the library was open 49 hours a week. In September of that year, Gay Nass was hired as administrative librarian after Joanne Spector’s resignation.

On September 27, 1980, a third referendum was proposed. A bond issue for $1,250,000 to construct a new library building was approved by the voters of Bloomingdale 1,210 to 301.

Plans were put into motion to build the new library, just east of the existing facility, on the land donated to the village by Campanelli and leased by the library. On May 3, 1981, ground was broken for a 20,000 square foot library building designed by Art Jakl & Associates of Bloomingdale.

Plans included 10,000 square feet on the ground level to be shared by adult, juvenile, and technical services, and 10,000 square feet on the lower level that would be made available for public meetings and provide space for further expansion.

The new library building opened its doors on July 15, 1982.

By June of 1985, the library’s book collection had grown to over 35,000 volumes, and services had been expanded to include records, cassettes, audio visual equipment, magazines, pamphlets, puzzles, maps, and picture files. The library was open 61 hours a week and had a staff of 18.

In December of 1986, Mary E. Rodne was hired as library director to replace Gay Nass who had resigned. Rodne was faced with the challenge of meeting the needs of a rapidly growing and changing community. To meet this task, the Library Board of Trustees, the staff, and the citizens of Bloomingdale embarked on a series of five studies, which were conducted over a six-year period.

Preliminary work began in September of 1987 and included the following tasks:

Community Analysis Committee Study — completed in December of 1988
Long-Range Plan for Library Service and Mission Statement — completed in September of 1989
Library Building Program Statement — completed in December of 1990
Bloomingdale Public Library Proposed Remodeling and Expansion Program — completed in June of 1991
Financial Planning Report for A Library Building Expansion Project — completed in June of 1994.
These studies, which covered the preceding 10 years, revealed that usage of the library had increased dramatically.

Bloomingdale’s population had increased 58 percent. As a result, average daily patron visits to the library had increased 93 percent, circulation of material had increased 51 percent, book collection size increased by 85 percent, reference questions answered increased by 390 percent, and library program attendance had increased by 751 percent.

The six-year study ultimately lead to the creation of a building project designed to meet a 20-year plan for library service to the community. In September of 1994, a Citizen’s Referendum Committee was established. They formulated a referendum seeking approval of $3,600,000 in bonds to be issued by the Village of Bloomingdale to expand/remodel the library and improve services. The referendum committee concluded its responsibilities by informing the community of the library’s critical need for expanded hours, more library materials and services, additional seating and quiet work areas, increased meeting and program areas, more space for personal computers, improved accessibility, and improved security for library materials.

A proviso also was included to convert the third floor mezzanine into a local history room to house the village’s historical files and provide display cases for historical exhibits.

On November 8, 1994, Bloomingdale residents passed the referendum with a vote of 2,791 to 1,944. In December of 1994, village bonds for the project were sold. On January 2, 1995, the library began opening at 9 a.m, instead of 9:30 a.m, Monday through Saturday; Sunday afternoon hours were initiated on January 15.

On August 3, 1995, the Library Board approved addition and remodeling plans submitted by Dahlquist and Lutzow Architects, Ltd. of Elgin. In early September, the Library Board accepted a bid of $2,051,700 from Driessen Construction Company of St. Charles.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the new addition was held on September 7, 1995. Construction began September 24 and was completed in November of 1996. A grand "reopening" reception was held on December 1, 1996.

In December of 2003, Timothy Jarzemsky was hired as library director to replace Mary E. Rodne who had resigned.

Today, with a staff of over 60, and several volunteers, the library provides 68 hours of service weekly in its 35,000 square foot facility. The library's Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC) gives patrons direct access to Bloomingdale’s holdings as well as the holdings of eight area libraries.

The Bloomingdale Public Library holds over 128,000 items, including books for children, teens, and adults, DVDs, books on CD, music CDs, puzzles, learning games, audiovisual equipment, and video games. eBooks and digital magazines are also available for download to eReaders, tablets, and portable devices.

The library has 30 patron computers, as well as wireless internet access throughout the library. Reference service has expanded to offer email, IM, and text reference.

Director Timothy Jarzemsky and staff are committed to continuing the tradition of linking resources and residents to enhance lifelong learning.