About Nichols Library

Nichols Library's History

For more than 110 years, the Nichols Library has been an important part of the City of Naperville. The kinship began with a $10,000 bequest from Professor James Nichols. He did not want any Naperville child to be without books as he had been while growing up. On Sept. 22, 1898, the Nichols Library opened its doors to serve Naperville’s 2,200 residents.

For the next 88 years, the stone building on Washington Street served the growing community. (Stop by Nichols today to see a miniature replica of the original building in the upper level lobby.)  During the 1950’s Naperville’s population had grown to 7,023, the library’s collection had 12,323 volumes, and its annual circulation reached 21,119. An addition was added to the building in 1961, however the building reached capacity by 1979.

By the early 1980s, 10,000 volumes were stored offsite. Children’s storytimes were heard in a damp basement. Library users and staff literally brushed shoulders as each went about their library tasks. Something needed to be done! Enter the “new” Nichols Library built at 200 W. Jefferson Avenue. The $6 million, 63,300 square foot facility opened on March 11, 1986, four times the size of the building on Washington Street. The “new” Nichols Library opened with 143,191 books, audio-visual materials, periodicals, and other items to serve the 67,371-member community.

On March 11, 2011, the “new” Nichols Library celebrated its 25th Anniversary. Today the Nichols Library houses over 350,000 items and includes many new formats such as downloadable eBooks, eAudiobooks, and eVideos. When the old Nichols opened in 1898, 637 items were checked out during the first year; today over 109,000 items are checked out each month.

Today the City has three Library facilities, after adding Naper Blvd. Library in 1992 and 95th Street Library in 2003.  Clearly this City with its population of 141,853 (2010 census) is a community that enjoys reading and supports their Libraries!

Sue Prindiville, Nichols Library Manager
Susan Greenwood, Community Services
April 25, 2011