Marshall Public Library was officially opened on October 4th, 1916.
In 1915, the Walter Burdick Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution sought to include the question of a public library in the April election. A newspaper campaign was started to create “favorable sentiment” towards the establishment of a 2 mill tax to support a public library. The proposition carried and in January 1916, Mayor John W. Lewis appointed the first library board. The library was located on the second floor of the Claypool Block on the southwest corner of 5th and Main Street (now Archer Avenue) and was accessible only by an outside stairway.
In 1929, the library was moved to a room on the second floor above the City Hall. No rent was required at this location and there was an inside stairway. In 1963, the Marshall Women’s Club presented the idea of moving the library to a ground floor location to better service the public. Funding, however, was an issue and nearly ended the project. In November 1964, a Friends of the Library group was organized to head the fundraising efforts and was able to purchase the building at 612 Archer Avenue.
In 1994, the Marshall Area Public Library District was established which includes all of the residents living in the Marshall school district but not within city limits. In 1993, the building at 614 Archer Avenue, which adjoined the current library, was purchased to expand the library, increase services, and upgrade to meet ADA standards.
By 1996, the old library building was completely remodeled to include a meeting room, accessible restrooms, a periodical room, a young adult area, and office space. The new area included a circulation desk, new shelving, a children’s Secret Garden Room with boxcar, computer carrels, video shelving, CD racks, a copy machine and two new reading areas near the front windows.
The buildings at 612 and 614 Archer Avenue served many different purposes before being renovated into the library. At one time, the buildings housed:
1. A buggy shop. There is a wagon in the Yellowstone Museum with a painted sign "C.F. Dixon, Marshall Illinois;" it was built in the library building.
2. An automobile sales store. A large ramp in the back of the building was used to transport cars to the top floors to be parked in front of the windows for visitors to view.
3. A Western Auto Parts Store.
4. A Krogers Grocery Store.