• The template for this display is not available. Please contact a Site administrator.

Latest News & Announcements


125 Years of the Jennie D. Hayner Memorial Library Building

Interior Hayner BuildingFlames still flicker in the fireplaces. Nineteenth-century oil paintings tell the story of Alton past. Gleaming display cases hold treasures borrowed from local collectors and from the library’s own cache. Visitors often ask if the library was originally a church. They’re awed to discover that the building has always been a library. 

The Jennie D. Hayner Memorial Library opened 125 years ago, on May 21, 1891. Local businessman John E. Hayner funded construction of the library in honor of his late wife, Jennie. The library association hired Theodore Link, a highly respected St. Louis architect who designed St. Louis’s Union Station Railroad Depot, to design the building. Link also designed the First Presbyterian Church at the corner of Fourth and Alby and both the main building (after a fire destroyed the original buildings) and the Harriet Newell Haskell Memorial Gate at Monticello Seminary, now Lewis & Clark Community College in Godfrey.

The library’s architecture is known as Old English, Gothic style, with a vaulted ceiling and dog-tooth trimmings. The building materials are red brick, with Alton and Bedford stone over windows and entrances, and a basement of Alton limestone. Inside, the wood is oak and yellow pine. Fireplaces with oak mantels and iridescent blue and green tiles grace the turret room and the back wall of the main room. 

In 1906 John Hayner’s grandson, John Haskell, announced he would provide funding to build an annex to the library building. The new annex was designed by U. S. Nixon and opened to the public in October of 1907. In 1970 the adult collection was moved out of this building and into the Belle Street building. The children’s collection remained in the Hayner building as the Hayner Children’s Library. 

On May 21, 2011, the original Jennie D. Hayner Memorial Library building reopened as the Genealogy & Local History Library. Therefore, in addition to May 21, 2016, being the 125th anniversary of the building’s completion, it is also our five-year anniversary. People come from all over the United States to use our collection, and our staff has corresponded with researchers in other countries as well. We are extremely lucky to have such a beautiful building dedicated fully to genealogy and local history research.

In December of this year we will have a special holiday open house, and Genealogy & Local History Manager Lacy McDonald will give a presentation on the architecture and history of the building. In the meantime, check out the #HaynerGenealogyGems hashtag on The Hayner Public Library District Facebook page. We’re posting 125 gems of the Genealogy & Local History Library throughout the year, one every few days. The gems will also be posted on the History at Hayner blog

The Genealogy & Local History audio tour, available any time the library is open, is also a great way to learn more about the library’s history in Alton, the building, the Hayner and Haskell families, architect Theodore Link, and our significant artwork.

Don't Forget Cookbooks for Christmas

Cookbook SaleHayner Library’s cookbook, Read ’Em and Eat! flew off the shelves last year as a great holiday gift. We are still selling them at only $20 apiece. The cookbooks feature over 600 recipes collected from you, our patrons, the community, library staff, library board, local restaurants, Facebook friends, and even popular authors! Sold at the circulation desk of each Hayner location, they make great gifts for family and friends . . . and buy one for yourself to help you prepare all your holiday meals!

Search Boxes

Search Catalog

Footer - Contact Information


Downtown Library
326 Belle Street, Alton, IL
Phone: 618-462-0677 Fax: 618-462-0665
Monday–Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Friday and Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Alton Square Library
132 Alton Square, Alton, IL

Phone: 618-462-0677 Fax: 618-463-1277
Monday–Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday Noon to 6 p.m.

Genealogy & Local History Library
401 State Street, Alton, IL

Phone: 618-462-0677 Fax: 618-462-4919
Monday–Saturday (except Wednesday) 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Wednesday Noon to 8 p.m.
Closed Sundays

Select Science Books Now Available for Checkout at Hayner Library

The Hayner Public Library District was recently awarded a $5,000 grant from the Illinois Secretary of State to purchase new books related to science. The Hayner project is called Select Science and reflects the library’s commitment to providing informational resources for students and lifelong learners.

Some of the books purchased for the Select Science project have arrived at the library. You can download the current list of books here: pdfSELECT-SCIENCE-BOOKS-7-24-14354.16 KB.