On August 31, 1994, the first McHenry Public Library (MHPL) staff computers were connected to the Internet. In October, Althoff Industries began to renovate the former Follett Software Company site, to prepare it for sale to the library district.
On January 19, 1995, the library district trustees closed on the purchase of the building at 809 North Front Street. For this, the fourth and current (physical) iteration of the library, the purchase price was $1,850,000.
The library district trustees agreed to provide a down payment of 25% of the purchase price and mortgaged the remaining 75%. To make the down payment, the library district trustees opted to sell the Tesch Home at 1011 North Green Street to School District 15 for $156,000 and sell its undeveloped 10.5-acre property on Green Street.
On April 20, 1995, the Tesch Home library closed its doors for the last time. The architectural firm of Engberg Anderson of Milwaukee designed the renovation of the building to house a library.
On June 7, 1995, the new McHenry Public Library at 809 North Front Street held a Grand Opening. The building is divided between a 28,000-square-foot library portion and a 20,000-square-foot warehouse portion.
On April 16, 1996, the MHPL District introduced its Web site. In November of 1998, MHPL District residents voted against a proposal to raise the library-supporting millage rate for property taxes to increase operating funds.
On April 13, 1999, the MHPL District had a second tax referendum, which passed. In July of 1999, the MHPL began to circulate Spanish-language books.
In 2001, the MHPL began to offer public access to the Internet. The MHPL states that in December, the “CCS (Cooperative Computer Services) consortium changed automation systems, migrating from GEAC to Sirsi, in order to provide a graphical interface for the online public library catalogs.”
In July of 2004, the MHPL paid off its mortgage on the former Althoff Building at 809 North Front Street “six years early, due to strong financial management and passage of an operating fund referendum in 1999.” In the autumn, the MHPL “hired a space planning consultant to look at the best use of existing space and to help the board and staff review their options for expansion.”
On January 17, 2006, the trustees “approved a contract with the architectural firm Nagle Hartray Danker Kagan McKay Penney Architects, Ltd. to prepare a long-term plan for possible library expansion. Community tours and focus groups followed.”
On June 30, 2007, Library Director Arlene Kaspik retired and the Board of Trustees named Assistant Director Bill Edminster the interim director. In November, the Library Board hired James C. Scholtz as the fifth director of the McHenry Public Library.
Scholtz had previously served as Library Director of the Yankton Community Library in South Dakota from 1994 to 2007. He earned his MALS degree at Northern Illinois University in 1982. Edminster earned his MLIS degree at Rosary College (now Dominican University) in 1992.
In December, the Library Board purchased property adjacent to building to the north for $804,825. This increased the MPHL’s total property to about four acres.
In November of 2008, a library building referendum did not pass. The Library Board later approved $2,500,000 to remodel, renovate, and expand the library building. Funds came from the MHPL’s Reserve Fund and governmental Recovery Zone bonds. Almost half of the interest for Recovery Zone bonds is credited back to the library district.
In January of 2010, expansion began on the existent library building. The expansion added roughly 5, 800 square feet.
In April, the main library and front lobby area underwent renovation. In September, the construction workers finished.
In the first week of October, the McHenry Public Library celebrated its Grand Reopening and 75th Anniversary celebration. One year later, the MHPL added forty-one more parking spaces on its additional property to the north.
As of July, Executive Director James Scholtz has a regular salary of $103,845.69. Assistant Director Reuben “Bill” Edminster has a regular salary of $90,124.32. A few years ago, when the district had 35,293 residents, the MHPL had a collection of 107,133 volumes and circulated 414,107 items per year.
On August 16, 2011, Executive Director Scholtz apprised the Library Board of how the merger of five Illinois Regional Library Systems into the Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS) effected the McHenry Public Library and other member libraries. According to the Board of Trustees Meeting Minutes, Scholtz explained “since RAILS began operation on July 1, they have received a number of questions from members and others regarding their services. Many have asked about services the five former systems offered before the state budget crisis forced them to fast track the merger process. Now that the merger has taken place, RAILS members are wondering when they might have access to those services again. While RAILS would like to support all of these projects, they are unable to do so at this time. With the consolidation of library systems and continued cutbacks due to delayed grant payments, the Illinois State Library has instructed them to focus on these priorities: Delivery, LLSAP support, Talking Book services and member communications about RAILS.”
Frank Marasco is President of the Board of Trustees. Paul Antens is Vice President.
Karen Doran is the Secretary. Kathy Beaderstadt is the Treasurer. The other members of the Board of Trustees are Chuck Reilly, John O’Neill, and Delphine Grala.
In the June/July issue of The Preface newsletter, the MHPL revealed Henry Kenyon had retired and Katie Sherwood was the new Genealogist and Local History Librarian. Board President Marasco gave Kenyon a board resolution that thanked him for his more than twenty years of service.
Anyone interested in joining the Friends of the McHenry Public Library can attend a meeting of the Friends of the Library. The board and other members generally meet at 7:00 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month in the MHPL’s Meeting Room.
One can volunteer for book sales, book sorting, special speakers, children’s programs, adult programs drive, membership, newsletter/publicity, special events, and organizing bus tours. To volunteer, leave a message at the Checkout Desk or call Bill Edminster at (815) 385-0036.
Recently, the Friends of the Library raised money to for new public services desks, a plasma screen for lobby announcements, the annual movie license, an inventory security system, summer reading incentives, and sponsorship of children’s book discussion groups. The officers are Barb Knospe, President; Ethel Huberty, Vice President; Teri Jones, Secretary; and Georgann Caputo, Treasurer.
The MHPL is open from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Sundays. It will be closed this year on November 21st and 22nd for Thanksgiving, December 24th and 25th for Christmas, and December 31st for New Years.
If the MHPL has to close because, say, the power dies during a snowstorm, there will be a notice on the Emergency Closing Center. The phone number there is (815) 385-0036.
 Up to this point, I have relied on The Encyclopedia of Chicago, The City of McHenry’s “Gagetown Brochure,” and “History of the McHenry Public Library District.” The latter was based pm research conducted by Julia A. Johnas in September of 1988 and Mary Amstadt in March of 2003.