Library Visit: Galena Public Library, IL

Galena Public Library
601 South Bench Street
Galena, IL 61036


  • Founded by Benjamin Franklin Felt in 1894
  • First Galena library located in the Post Office
  • Carnegie Grant of $12,500 awarded on January 23, 1907
  • Cornerstone laid on April 27,1907
  • Dedicated on July 4, 1908
  • Style: Greek Revival
  • Architect: Claude & Starch, Madison, WI

To read a detailed history of the Galena Library click here.

Recent statistics:

  • Serves 4,556 residents
  • Holds 21,325 volumes
  • Circulates 32,758 items annually


The library sits on top of the hill overlooking the main street.
Galena Public Library.
Nice detail, how the light pole matches the door and window frames.
I wonder if the original windows were red? This little bit of color greatly enhances the personality of the building.
Notice the benches in front of the lower windows? They provide some perspective on the size of this library.
The cornerstone.
Bench in memory of Pat Richardson, November 2005
Bench detail.
Walking into the library. To the right are stairs that lead down to the historical collections.
The first thing my eyes were drawn to are these beautiful bookshelves or stacks. They’re from the 1890s when the library was housed in the Post Office. They are by far the most unique shelves I’ve come across thus far.
Not only are they beautiful, they also provide good air circulation for the books. And rumor had it that these open stacks discouraged young couples from finding a too secluded corner when they had romance on their minds. Talk about library design!
Shelf detail.
A warm, quiet corner.
A cozy reading area to the left side of the library (as you walk through the front door).
Dedicated to Shirley Conley from the Friends of the Galena Library.
James W. Scott. His obituary appeared in The New York Times on April 15, 1895
Cather on the shelf.
Globe in the study area.
A view of the entrance and circulation desk.
I was so focused on taking pictures that I forgot to look through the viewfinder. Doh!
Emma Robb (1862-1947) and Anna Felt (1859-1953).
Brief bios of Emma and Anna. I’d like to learn more about these old friends. According to this history of the library, Anna was the driving force that shaped the Galena Library.
View of the back of the library.
I enjoy library only parking only signs.
I’ll end with a picture taken from inside the library looking out over the Galena River (also known as Fever River). Historic main street is down and to the left. If you’re anywhere in the vicinity, Galena is a wonderful town to visit in any season. Downtown Galena is one of the best-preserved examples of a prosperous, early 19th century main street in Illinois. Ulysses S. Grant called Galena home for a while and his house is open to the public. Check out Galena’s tourism website for details. And if you’re in the mood to stay in an 18th-century cabin, I recommend Allen’s Log Cabin Guest House (we’ve stayed in the Grant Cabin several times because it’s next to a barn and cow pasture. I love watching cows and hearing them moo).


  1. As the former librarian of this wonderful library, I was pleased to see this in your blog! Thanks for visiting and providing your comments!

  2. I'm thrilled that you found this post and enjoyed it! It makes me so very happy when librarians take the time to leave a comment. Thank you! I still find myself thinking of those beautiful book shelves.

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