Schewe Library was opened in 1976, and was a milestone for Illinois College in meeting the resource needs of the campus community. Named in honor of Karl and Louise Schewe, the library contains approximately 150,826 books and bound periodicals and subscribes to 350 journals and 11 newspapers. The library's structure, staff, and holdings serve as one of the cornerstone of the liberal arts education offered at Illinois College.
For nearly 67 years (1830-1897), a small area on the second floor of Beecher Hall served as the College's library. What had been 1,500 volumes in 1837, had doubled to 3,000 by 1855, and had doubled again ten years later. In 1897, the library reached 15,000 volumes, and was moved to Jones Memorial Hall. Continued growth led college officials to relocate ICs rather mobile library to the new Tanner Hall in 1930. At the beginning of its 46-year stay in Tanner, the IC library featured 22,000 volumes. By 1973, the library holdings reached 80,000 and overcrowding on the shelves became acute.
In 1970, a survey of students, faculty, alumni and trustees indicated that they felt that the College's greatest need was a new library. A representative committee was appointed to determine the major features to be included in the new facility. Students and faculty submitted their ideas and opinions, and visited other liberal arts colleges where new libraries had recently been built.
The library initiative derived funds from approximately 2,200 alumni, faculty, students and friends as well as corporations and foundations, and a federal grant of over $400,000. Students from the classes of 1974 and 1975 alone pledged $13,000 to the library project. Construction of the current three-story structure began in 1972 and the college library collection was moved into the new building in March 1976.