In 1971 the Gurnee Women’s Club began to look for a meaningful service that their club could offer the area. The Warren-Newport Library Committee held its first meeting on July 25, 1972. On November 20, 1972, bookmobile service began and a lease was signed on 1180 sq. ft. in the building next to the local bank for $4,200 per year. Opening day for the library came on January 10, 1973. The library opened for 45 hours per week with 3,000 volumes.
A successful referendum was held in 1973 with 822 “yes” votes to 175 “no” votes. The Library District was officially established with an assessed valuation of $96,000,000, 5,000-6,000 volumes in the library, and 3,000 items on the bookmobile. Forty percent of the district’s 16,500 residents had received library cards. In September 1974 a new bookmobile was purchased which began expanded service to the outlying communities.
Faced with a lease deadline for rented space in the fall of 1977, members began to plan a library building to support a projected population growth from 20,000 people to 40,000 by 1995. The price tag of $825,000 included $75,000 for the purchase of land. A building referendum was defeated by 49 votes in December 1975. The same referendum was defeated in March 1976.After the second defeat, board members purchased 3.5 acres of land and reduced the size of the building plan to 12,000 sq. ft. A third building referendum for $495,000 was passed by the voters in 1977 by a 189 vote margin. The original building was dedicated in 1978.
The library adopted a Plan of Library Service 1983-1988. Based on the community analysis and library study, this plan identified goals that included the expansion of the library building by 1988. With this expansion, it was hoped that WNPL would be able to serve its projected population of 36,000-40,000 by the year 2005. In 1986 the library underwent expansion and remodeling.
After relocating to temporary quarters for 14 months, WNPL in 1997 opened a $5.6 million, 31,000 square foot addition.
In 2010-11, an $8.6 million renovation and 4500 sq. ft. expansion project added a state-of-the-art meeting room, dedicated teen space, and expanded study rooms and computer access.
In the year ending June 2017, about one million items circulated to 38,000 cardholders representing a district population of 66,690. Over 1200 daily visitors pass to be served by a staff of 97 (59 FTE). The collection includes 317,000 items; over 23,300 visitors attended 885 programs; the budget is $6.3 million; the bookmobile circulated over 64,000 items.