By adoption of an ordinance on April 18, 1885, a donation of $11,862.67 made to the City of Princeton by the last will of Nehemiah Matson for the purpose of establishing a free public library was accepted by the city council in trust.
In February 27, 1886, the first Board of Directors of Matson Public Library was confirmed by the city council and the library opened its doors.
The first meeting of the new Board of Directors took place on March 10, 1886 and for the next three years, the Nehemiah Matson fund was held as an investment until a location for the library was decided upon and secured. After a lengthy process, it was decided that the first library was to be located in the building at what is now 529 South Main Street in Princeton, IL.
In 1890, we were already expanding. The Matson Public Library located on South Main Street in Princeton was first opened for use by the public. It remained in use for 22 years. In the summer of 1912, the Chicago architectural firm of Patton & Miller was contracted to begin work on the permanent library facility in the main square of Princeton. A year later, the new facility was opened to the public.
94 years later, a city-wide referendum was passed to allow construction to begin on a new, 28,000 square foot facility at 698 East Peru Street. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held in August 2007 when the new facility was given to the people of Princeton.