As long ago as 1874, the citizens of Fulton, Illinois have been committed to the success of a free public library. It was at this time that the first recorded attempt at establishing a library facility within the community took place. Over the next 20 years the efforts continued. In 1894, the Women’s Relief Corps sponsored a successful library funding project. A “Book Festival” was held in the old Opera House in April of that year. The price of admission was “one well bound book or fifty cents”. The proceeds furnished 150 books and allowed for the leasing of two rooms housed in the second floor of a store building. A library was created.
In 1909, the famous philanthropist Andrew Carnegie donated $5000 for the construction a free public library in the city of Fulton. At this time, Dr. Hannah Schmaling donated the ground on which the library stands today, plus the sum of $3000 to be placed in a permanent endowment fund for the Fulton Public Library. Fulton Public Library was formally opened to the public on October 27, 1909.
The Library joined the River Bend Library System in 1969 and became a district library in 1974. It was at this time that the library name was finally changed to Schmaling Memorial Public Library District. The library is currently a member of the Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS).