The Bradley Public Library began as a WPA project in 1935 in a store building at 416 W. Broadway. The WPA withdrew its support in 1942, but several community members donated their time and labor to maintain the Library, which was moved to the Bradley State and Savings Bank Building. After two years of struggling to maintain a library, the Bradley Public Library was able to begin operating as a tax-supported municipal institution in 1944 under the authority of the Village of Bradley.
In 1959, the Library moved to a newly erected building at 422 W. Broadway.
In July of 1980, talks began concerning a possible site for a new library building. Lots on the corner of Fulton and North Streets, near the center of Bradley, were purchased in December of 1980. Donations and grants were sought for construction of the new building. In 1984, the Library was presented with a $250,000 Federal Public Library Construction grant by then Secretary of State Jim Edgar. Construction was completed and the new 12,000 sq. ft. library building at 295 North Fulton Avenue opened on June 16, 1985.
In December 1986, the Board decided that the library should become a public library district, which would make the Library its own local government body and not under the jurisdiction of the Village of Bradley. A referendum was put to the voters on April 7, 1987 to become a district and an increase of taxes to support the library which passed by 4 votes.
In July 1989, the Evelyn Weakley Memorial Mural was unveiled. Evelyn Weakley was one of the original trustees beginning her term of service in 1944 and served as a trustee for many years. The Library’s Children’s programming room is also named for her.
In 2000, property adjacent to the Library was purchased for future expansion and remodeling purposes. Two more properties were purchased in 2008, laying the groundwork for a building expansion. Engberg Anderson Architects were selected to design the expansion and renovation.
To facilitate the construction project, the Library relocated to a storefront in Northfield Square Mall from August 2009 to April 2010. The groundbreaking for the 5,000 sq. ft. addition and complete renovation was held August 28, 2009. The project was completed and the Library returned to its Fulton street home in April 2010 with the official ribbon cutting ceremony being held May 23, 2010.
In 2019, the Bradley Public Library received a portion of the Frances Wertz estate as a charitable bequest. This donation enabled the remodeling of the Library to include an additional office, a second study room, and new Frances Wertz Conference Room as well as the installation of a presentation and sound system in the Drassler Room.