See biography by J. B. Frantz (1951).
The library was named in honor of Gail Borden (9 November 1801 - 11 January 1874 ), who in 1856 invented condensed milk. Although he never lived in Elgin or donated any funds for the library which bears his name in 1892 his step sons, Samuel and Alfred Church, residents of Elgin, purchased and donated the Scofield Mansion at 50 N. Spring Street to house the new library. Samuel and Alfred’s only request was that the library be forever and always known and called the Gail Borden Public Library.
In the autumn of 2003, the library moved into a new 139,980 square feet facility just across the street from the old library at a cost of $29.8 million. The new library is situated along the eastern shore of the Fox River and includes a shelving capacity of 460,000 volumes. The architects, Frye Gillan Molinaro Architects, Ltd, designed the library to accommodate the expected growth in population from 110,000 in 2004 to 165,000 over the next 20 years. The library, a two-story structure is clad in warm buff and terra cotta-colored stone and inspired by the late 19th and early 20th century architectural Prairie School style, illustrated by Frank Lloyd Wright and others.