"It's sad. I feel kinda...chokes me up a little bit."
The South Pekin Library is a big part of Janet Switzer's heritage. Her mother and grandmother ran the library for years. Now she's the librarian - a role that will likely end when it closes later this year.
"I think that's why I fought for it so hard," Switzer said. "Because my mom loved it, and her mother loved it. And it feels a little weird."
The South Pekin Library has been around for at least 70 years, according to Switzer. But usage has declined over the years and the community can't support the library like it used to. Switzer attributes the decline to the growing popularity of electronic readers and the internet. There's not a lot of money flowing into the small community library, and that makes it hard for the library to compete.
"I think that's where it's mostly coming from is because of the finances. It's just not there and not having the upgrades for things that make things more for people wanting to be here," she said.
"We don't qualify for grants that we need to qualify for. It's just tough. Tough for a small town. So it's really a loss to all of us, but it is what it is," said Connie Lenox, former South Pekin library board member.
Lenox is disappointed but not surprised. The nearest library is ten minutes away in Pekin, which she says isn't bad but has its disadvantages. Currently, people in South Pekin would have to purchase a library card to use the Pekin library. The South Pekin and Pekin Library boards are working on a deal that would allow South Pekin residents to use the Pekin Library for free. In return, South Pekin Library would hand over its tax levy.
Lenox says that would be nice, but its still an inconvenience to people in the community.
"For the children that go to school here. This is very convenient, so that's going to be hard. They're no going to have a way to get to Pekin," Lenox said.
The library board is still finding a way for the books to help the community. The library board is holding a liquidation sale until the location closes. Hard cover books are $1. Soft covers are fifty cents. The board plans to use the money to improve the local park.
"Cause we want to keep as much of the money here in town because that's where it came from. It's where the books were bought with tax money and stuff like that," Switzer said.
There's no set date for when the library will shut down.
The sight of so many books leaving for good is making its closing more of a reality. However, the building is old and needs repair, and Switzer says its time to turn the page.
"You know anytime something that's a positive piece of the town, you hate to see it go. So hopefully it's something to put in the park to say we were here," she said.