Celebrating 125 Years

Racine Public Library's 125th Anniversary - Celebrating 125 Years

On September 7, 2022, the Racine Public Library will celebrate its 125th anniversary. We hope you’ll join at our festivals, competitions and events to celebrate throughout the entire year. We’re so proud of our journey through Racine’s history, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Full Anniversary Events List

Note: Events are subject to change. Keep an eye on our calendar for more details throughout the year.

  • Winter Fest — Feb. 26, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    Library Drive
  • Retro Gaming Night — March 25, 6 to 8 p.m.
    Innovation Lab (2nd Floor)
  • Trivia Night Fundraiser — March 26, 7 to 10 p.m.
    Registration Required • $30/person • $200/team of 8
  • National Library Week — April 4 to 10
  • Earth Day Cleanup — April 23, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • 125th Block Party — July 16, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
    Lake Avenue
  • Storytime Revival — Sept. 7, 6 p.m.
  • Fall Literacy Fest — Sept. 10, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Milwaukee Maker Fair — September
  • International Games Day — Nov. 12, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Grand Reopening — TBD
  • Party Like it’s 1897 Gala — February 2023

125th Anniversary Merch

Support the library with your purchase of a 125th anniversary shirt! Available in adults’ and kids’ sizes.

Price:
$20 – Adult Sizes
$15 – Kid Sizes
Cash, card, and checks made out to the library are accepted.

Where to purchase: Stop by the library’s front desk or one of our anniversary events.

Designs:


History

In 1895, a group of citizens, spearheaded by the Woman’s Club, organized a Library Association to found a public library. The Woman’s Club’s efforts in helping the public library became a tradition that continued over the course of the next hundred years. In addition to the Woman’s Club, many other civic organizations, such as the Junior League of Racine, Racine Children’s Theatre, junior Chamber of Commerce, and the Rotary Club, have made unselfish, significant contributions of time, labor, and money to the Racine Public Library over the past century. Finally, on Thursday afternoon and evening, September 9, 1897, about a thousand of the 30,000 residents of Racine crowded into the city’s first free public library.

An outdoor display at a fair from the early 1910s or 1920s.

In 1991, the library arrived in the computer age. It had previously expanded its use of technology by installing a computerized cataloging and circulation system. Initially, there were only a few public access terminals due to space limitations, and the card catalog was retained. 1991 marked the library’s first acquisition of enough terminals to retire its card catalog. In 1996, the reference librarians began using the internet to locate answers to reference questions; since then, internet access has become a staple of the library’s services through the on-site computers, free building-wide WiFi, and borrowable laptops and WiFi hotspots.

Wisconsin’s first library teletype, which allowed interlibrary loans and messaging between Racine and Milwaukee Public Libraries. 1949.

Now, as we enter 2022, the library’s digitalization has only increased. COVID-19 and access issues require a library that is increasingly connected to the community online as well as in-person. Furthermore, STEM skills are fast becoming a necessity in communities around the world, calling the library to provide new tools for exploring and learning tech skills—3D printers, digital literacy sessions, coding instruction for children and more. 

And of course, human-centered services are gradually becoming the pinnacle of libraries’ support for their communities. To address growing needs for services to support employment, mental health, housing issues, legal services, people in crisis and more, the library has recently hired a full time social worker and opened a sensory room. From here, we’ll continue to meet the community’s evolving needs in new and creative ways.