Tom Emery, the author of the Illinois Through the Years column, has written "The Illinois State Library Heritage Project 1839-2013," a 220-page coffee-table book on the rich, colorful 175-year history of the Illinois State Library.|
The book will be distributed free of charge to all public and academic libraries in the state of Illinois. A companion website, designed by After Hours Development of Springfield, also will be launched.
The impact of the state library on the lives of everyday Illinoisans is emphasized in the book, along with the development and role of libraries in communities statewide. The work also covers a great deal of Illinois history, as some of the state's iconic names contributed to the development of the State Library.
Stephen A. Douglas was the first secretary of state to serve as state librarian, and Abraham Lincoln was the first to check materials out of the state library.
The project was funded by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services, which provided a Library Services and Technology Act grant for the project by the Illinois State Library. Blackburn College in Carlinville, Ill., was selected by the state library to administer the project.
Mr. Emery, a freelance writer and historical researcher from Carlinville and a 1993 graduate of Blackburn, recently earned the Award of Superior Achievement from the Illinois State Historical Society for the project, his seventh career award from the ISHS.
"The Heritage Project was a tremendously rewarding experience for me, and I enjoyed every minute of it," Mr. Emery said. "Illinois has a rich history of libraries, and our state library is widely considered to be one of the greatest state libraries in the nation. Illinois residents have every reason to be proud of their state library and the libraries that serve their communities."