The library began as a project of the Melvin Junior Woman's Club in 1934. It was during the Great Depression and the members were looking for a way to provide entertainment and recreation for community residents because in their words "no one had much money and very few ever got out of town."
Club members collected and donated books and the library began with about 50 volumes on a shelf in Ben Kaufman's grocery store on Main Street where the Post Office is now located. When Mr. Kaufman died his store was sold and Bill Holmes, who had a grocery store next door where the Evergreen Cafe was later located, provided shelf space.
In 1939 a WPA (Work Projects Administration) government program worked with the group to form, as they put it, "a real library." The village board gave the group the northeast room in the town hall and the WPA helped secure books on loan from the State Library in Springfield and employed the first librarian, Miss Gertrude Lamoreaux. With about 1400 books on the shelves, Melvin Public Library was open for business.
The WPA project ended in 1942, and the first Library Board of Trustees was elected in 1943. Members were Dorothy Freehill, Glyde Dietterle, Rev. Turner, Walter Iehl, Esther Ficken and Adelaide Dixon. The board then held a referendum to become a township library and it passed overwhelmingly. New shelves were built, new books were added and the library began to grow.
When more space was needed the village board offered the northwest room in town hall that was formerly used as a jail, the wall was removed, and this became the children's library. In 1965 another room was partitioned off from the back of the building and a rest room and air conditioning were also added to the library. In 1967 when Illinois libraries were organized into groups, the library became a member of The Lincoln Trail Libraries System, headquartered in Champaign.
Improvements to the library in the last several years include painting and redecorating, adding a new circulation desk and book return, landscaping the building, adding computers and Internet access, adding copy and fax machines, adding new programs and services, building new shelves and expanding and updating the collection.
In 1998 a group of local readers met and formed a library book discussion group called The Pageturners and the group has been meeting monthly for over 10 years and book club members have read and discussed over 100 books.
Founded in 1934, the library is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2009 and continues to provide material and services to residents in the village of Melvin and Peach Orchard Township as well as people from neighboring communities.