As part of the library’s continuing focus on local history, the Rock Island Public Library will present four video documentary screenings on Rock Island history. From the first railroad bridge to span the Mississippi to the city’s legacy architecture, the series highlights major events in the city. 


The series is part of the Library’s 150th anniversary year, which extends from November 2022 to November 2023. All four programs in the Rock Island documentary series are presented at 2 pm, at the Rock Island Downtown Library, 401 19th Street. Upcoming programs are as follows:

“The Rock Island Civil War Prison: Andersonville of the North?” 2 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 17, at the Downtown Library. The documentary tells the story of the Rock Island Civil War prison camp on Arsenal Island, and how it acquired the un-deserved reputation as the “Andersonville of the North.” Rare photographs and quotes from prisoner diaries reveal what conditions were like for thousands of Confederate soldiers. Other topics include the Copperhead movement in the North, and how the “battle for history” continued long after the Civil War ended. East Meets West (copyright 2017) and the Rock Island Civil War Prison (copyright 2012) are both productions of Heritage Documentaries of Moline.

“The Mississippi – River of Life,” 2 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 14, at the Downtown Library. The video is an overview of the construction of Lock and Dam 15 in the 1930s, the first project completed on the Upper Mississippi River as part of an overall project to create a nine-foot navigation channel. The video offers information about Upper Mississippi River history, river navigation, locks and dams, and the locking process. It was produced jointly by Friends of the Quad Cities and the US Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District, as part of the Mississippi River Project.

Historic Architecture: Old Friends Are Worth Keeping,” 2 p.m. Tuesday, Dec., 12, at the Downtown Library. Rock Island is blessed with interesting historic architecture, and this video addresses the importance of preserving historic homes, buildings, and neighborhoods in Rock Island. The video was produced by the Rock Island Preservation Commission and the City of Rock Island in 2004 and 2005.

All the events are presented at no charge, and are open to the public. Registration is not required.

The Rock Island Public Library first opened to the public on Nov. 25, 1872, and was the first in the state to open for business after the passing of the 1872 Local Library Act. The Rock Island Library operated in rented space in the Mitchell & Lynde bank building before opening the present Downtown Library building in 1903. 

For more news and events about the Rock Island Library, visit here, or call 309-732-READ, or follow Library social media sites.