July 2019
The Library will be closed July 4 for Independence Day
Help celebrate 145 years of Library service. Come listen to live music from Almost "A" Trio , explore a selection documents and items from the Library's history presented by the Champaign County Historical Archives , play a library-themed BINGO game, and enjoy anniversary crafts, food and refreshments, and more!

The celebration will continue throughout the year so watch for more events in the future!

The 145th Anniversary Celebration is generously funded by The Urbana Free Library Foundation .
Did You Know?
Among the many books in the Archives collection are some that were written or compiled by local residents.  Animal Stories of Champaign County: Summer  is a delightful book of selections from Champaign County newspaper articles that mention animals.
Compiled and donated by Chuck Fanakos of Tolono, Illinois, it is your go-to source for stories of birds making nests in pants or sheep surrounding motorists. Or as I like to think of it, a bit of James Herriot set in Champaign County. 
You don't need a library card to access all the great materials in the Archives. Books and journals, local newspapers, directories, yearbooks, photographs, maps, and databases like Ancestry Library Edition, Fold3, and HeritageQuest are all just a visit away. Stop by, call, or email. We always have someone available at the Archives Reference Desk to help. Our hours are:
10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. M, T, Th, F, Sa; 10:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. Wed.;
1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Sun.
From the Blog
Between 1906 and 1948, the fork of Main Street and Springfield in downtown Urbana was occupied by a prominent building called the Flatiron. Designed by Joseph W. Royer and inspired by its namesake in New York City, at 4 stories tall the Flatiron Building was Urbana's tallest building at the time.

From 1983 to 1992,   Donald Weckhorst   worked tirelessly to complete an impressive pictorial history  book  about Chanute Air Force Base. Along with the over 300 people who donated records for the book, Weckhorst also reached out to a young self-taught artist named Norine Welk to do some drawings for the book. Welk drew ultra-realistic landscapes and portraits using ballpoint pens and colored pencils on cream-toned paper.

She started drawing at the age of 6 after breaking her leg. Her grandmother brought her art supplies to pass the time and her talent was immediately noticeable. Welk started by drawing insects, and then moved on to other natural subjects. She analyzed things she saw in her mother’s garden and drew them later from memory. As Welk became older, her focus shifted to patriotic drawings. These included drawings of Buffalo Bill Cody, President Ronald Reagan, Native Americans, and American Air Force planes. Her drawings took approximately 20-40 hours to complete. The Reagan portrait in particular took about 35 hours and was created by Welk watching television appearances of Reagan very closely.

By the 1980s, the Sacramento native lived in Shiloh, IL with her husband, an airman at Scott Air Force Base. Weckhorst invited the 21-year-old Welk to nearby Chanute in 1985 after seeing her work. At the time, she had drawings on display at the Silver Wing Museum at Mather Air Force Base in California and was an award-winning Air Force artist, having sent her work to numerous Air Force art contests. Weckhorst had two major projects for Welk: to reproduce various instructor and master instructor badges from Chanute and reproduce pictures of Chanute Airman James Andrews, who flew Jennies at the base in the 1910s and later jets during WWII. 

Working for free, Welk immediately started on these projects. The February 1, 1985 issue of The Pacesetter shows Welk drawing different badges, along with some of her drawings of Native Americans. A year later, she was featured again in The Pacesetter, alongside James Andrews holding her drawing of him. Despite her beautiful work, none of the drawings made it into the pictorial history book. Unfortunately, the Archives does not have any Welk originals, however we do have some reproductions. Please enjoy Welk’s lost Chanute pictorial history drawings.
Think You Know Champaign-Urbana?
Try our trivia quiz
Q. Where was The Urbana Free Library located before it moved to its current location on Race Street?
Events at the Archives & Beyond

  • Research Night with Champaign County Genealogical Society, Wednesday, July 10, 7:00 pm -8:30 pm | The Jean Evans Archives Room (Second Floor), The Urbana Free Library

We Want To Hear From You!
Put our Archivists to the test. Ask us your questions about local history and genealogy.
Want to learn all about all the events at The Urbana Free Library?
Champaign County Historical Archives | 217-367-4025 | E-mail | Website