Celebrating an idea that “changed everything” in our community – the formation of public libraries in 1872! The 25th annual Frieze Lectures from Rock Island Library and Augustana will consider other ideas that inspired social and literary changes.
To help launch the 150th anniversary year of the Rock Island Public Library, the 25th annual Frieze Lecture series focuses on ideas that had a profound impact in their own times – much like the opening of the Rock Island Public Library, the first tax-supported public library to open in Illinois.
The 25th annual Frieze Lectures, a partnership between the Rock Island Public Library and Augustana College, will offer four faculty presentations at 2:00 pm on four Thursdays this fall: October 20, 27, November 3, and 10, at the Rock Island Downtown Library, 401 19th Street. Just as having a truly public library available to Rock Island citizens in 1872 was seen as a life-changing event, this year’s lecture themes focus on ideas that had a seismic impact in their own times. Each lecture features an Augustana faculty member discussing books that mark significant artistic, scientific, or political movements.
Due to a schedule change, the first lecture in the series now includes a new speaker and topic. Dr. Paul Olsen, of the Augustana English Department, launches the lecture series with a discussion of the great “truths” of American icon William Styron, best known for Sophie’s Choice. The New York Times 2006 obituary noted that the late author’s “explorations of difficult historical and moral questions earned him a place among the leading literary figures of the post-World War II generation.”
All lectures in the Ideas That Changed Everything series begin at 2:00 pm in the Library's Community Room, and are free and open to the public. The full list is as follows:
Immediately following this last Frieze Lecture, the library will host a 150th birthday party from 3:00 to 6:00 pm, with cake, special giveaways and contests, behind- the-scenes library tours, and other activities. Party guests are encouraged to bring items or special greetings to go into a 150th anniversary time capsule. For a lasting keepsake of the event, attendees and families can pose with a book or library card for a professional photo. Those who dress as their favorite literary character may win a prize. The party launches a year of special 150th anniversary programming.
“The Frieze Lecture series with Augustana College began with the celebration of the library’s 125th anniversary, so it was a particularly appropriate way to kick off our 150th,” said Angela Campbell, Rock Island Public Library director. “We are honored to continue our association with Augustana College, which brings college-level lectures into the public learning setting of the library.”
All of the above events are free and open to the public. No registration is required. Refreshments will be available after each lecture. Ample parking is available, and both the Library and the Community Room are fully accesssible.
For more events at the Rock Island Public Library, anniversary or otherwise, visit the library website, call 309-732-READ, or follow library social media sites.
Rock Island Public Library History:
The Rock Island Public Library opened to the public on November 25, 1872, inside a rented room in the Mitchell and Lynde bank building, off 17th Street and 2nd Avenue. Though other public libraries in Illinois had formed boards earlier, Rock Island was the first to actually open to the public. Opening day occurred just eight months after the passage of the Illinois Local Library Act, which made tax-supported public libraries possible.
Rock Island’s accelerated opening date was made possible by a generous donation from the private Young Men’s Literacy Association, which offered their library collection, equipment, and lone staff member to the City of Rock Island on August 12, 1872. The Literary Association’s young librarian, Miss Ellen Gale, became the first director of the new public library, a position she would hold until retirement in 1937. The library will celebrate its 150th year with “The Year of the Library,” featuring events from now until November 25, 2023.
The Frieze Lecture Series was created by late library board member Ruth Evelyn Katz to celebrate the library's 125th anniversary. The name comes from the architectural feature around the top of the downtown library building. The authors carved into the sandstone are Homer, Longfellow, Emerson, Virgil, Hugo, Shakespeare, Goethe, Burns, Hawthorne, Tegner, and Bancroft.