In January of 1908, Mrs. Mabel Jewell of Altamont decided to take up library work, and was determined to get one year of practical work before taking a course in a library school. She decided to place small hand bills in all the prominent business houses, asking for interest in a library and a reading room. A subscription of $2.00 entitled the subscriber to the use of the library for one year.
The library was opened in March of 1908, in two rooms upstairs in the Grobengieser building, and on January 25, 1909, Mrs. Jewell presented a petition for a library ordinance to the City Council. This petition was granted, and the ordinance was passed. At the City Council meeting on February 22, 1909, the mayor appointed the following members to the library board: Mrs. H. Stine, Mrs. G. C. Dial, Miss Jennie Schwerdtfeger, Fred Naumer, W. H. Shumert, T. E. Hogan, Will Albers, G. M. Baker, and Charles, Alwert.
On May 3, 1912, Mabel Jewell was formally hired as the librarian. At this time the library was located at Main and Washington. Mabel Jewell served in this position until 1920, at which time the contents of the library were given to the Altamont Public School, and the Altamont Free Public Library was closed. The library was opened again in 1937 in the room above the old fire station, and the librarian was Mrs. Fairy Vail, now a resident of Beecher City. She served in this position until late 1939 when Mrs. Enola Schumacher became the city librarian.
In July, 1946, the library board voted to move the library to the building then recently purchased by the city located directly east of the building now being occupied by the library. The room was decorated and most attractively made into a suitable library.
On April 6, 1948, the library board voted to move the library to the Altamont Building and Loan Office and to share operating expenses. The library remained here with Mrs. Schumacher as librarian until January 4, 1969 when the library moved into the newly erected City Municipal Building. Mrs. Larry Stepp was hired as librarian to replace Mrs. Schumacher who retired after some thirty years of service to the library.
Source: Altamont Area Centennial Booklet
Since then, the Altamont Public Library has joined the Shawnee Library System. This system serves the 32 southernmost counties in Illinois and provides resources for public libraries, school libraries, academic libraries, and other special libraries.
The library can now be found at 121 W. Washington Avenue in Altamont. It moved into this spacious building in 1990. The current library employees–librarian Beth Speers and clerks Kris Logue, Bob Kassel and Gladys Kopplin –provide their talents to aid the patrons of the library.