Back when a new house cost $12,000, the average income per year was $5,300 and a gallon of gas was 25 cents, Delores and Donald Goodline were starting The Worth Public library in their basement.
Fifty years later, the library is still going strong. It plans on holding a celebration later this year. In the meantime, those who were around in the early days shared their memories with the Reporter.
Adele Benck, 85, has been a Worth resident for more than 50 years. She volunteered at the library after it was relocated into the Village Hall. She was a stay-at-home mom of three and volunteering was her way to escape.
“The Goodlines got water in their basement,” she said. “There was some kind of flood but thankfully, the books didn’t get damaged.”
Benck felt that incident made everyone realize the location needed to change and that’s when the Village Hall agreed to take over. It was timely because the Goodlines were outgrowing their home quarters. They had over 2,000 books with a circulation of more than 100 books per week.
There were 600 people registered for a library card. It wasn’t exactly easy trying to check out people’s books and prepare dinner.
Relocating to the Village Hall offered a bigger space and the opportunity to receive financial assistance. The Goodlines’ Library was believed to be the first free library in the state to exist without state or federal funding. Benck went on to become a library board member and credits Illinois for implementing the suburban systems that allow access to a wealth of materials.
Kari Fickes, another lifelong Worth resident, also has a rich history with the Worth library.
She remembers the excitement felt among library patrons once construction was completed at 6917 W. 111th St. This has been the library’s address since 1972.
Kari’s father, Robert Fickes was a Library Trustee, her mother, Jeananne Fickes, was the children’s librarian and past president. Kari grew up participating in all the summer reading programs, children’s programs, and she utilized all of the library resources throughout her college years.
Following her parent’s footsteps, she too served as a trustee and past president up until 2011.
“I remember going into the library at night and cleaning with my dad because there wasn’t enough funds for a cleaning service. We love our library. It’s the heart of the Worth community. My mother loved it so much she left a portion of her estate to them when she died.”
Officials think the library remains strong in the community because it’s evolved with the times.
At the beginning, patrons came into the library to check out books. Now, they can download them onto an electronic device.
At one time, people used a library computer at a desk. Now, they’ll provide a laptop and they can go anywhere within the premises.
Back then, libraries were viewed by some as a restaurant to those starving for knowledge derived from books. Now, they’ve become a gathering place for innovative minds from children to adults who take part in various workshops and author talks.
In the beginning, officials said the Worth community passionately cared for its library.
A lot of things may have changed, but some feel the community still feels that way 50 years later.