Emeline Schneider Messenger was born on June 2, 1902 in Aurora, Illinois. She was the great-granddaughter of John Peter Schneider, who founded Schneider's Mill (which later became North Aurora) in 1834. Emeline attended Aurora West High School in Aurora, Illinois and Rockford College in Rockford, Illinois where she majored in French and Music. Emeline was married to Howard Messenger, who passed away in 1975. They had two children, Barbara and Deborah.
Mrs. Messenger, as she was known to children and adults alike, became involved with the North Aurora Public Library in May 8, 1937 as a project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). At that time, all of the staff were volunteers. The library opened with 1,000 books, donated by the Aurora Public Library, Aurora College, the Extension Division of the Illinois State Library, and private collections. According to Schneider’s Mill, a book on the history of North Aurora from 1834-1984 (written mostly by Mrs. Messenger,) “Local Volunteers had worked hard on the front part of the old building, which had served as a post office, to turn it into a 15 by 15 foot room for a library. The other half still served as a village meeting and polling place. The library room was complete with shelves, two used tables, two chairs—also used—and a small secondhand gas heater, which has been purchased for one dollar.” The entire expenditure to open the library was $23.11.
The WPA withdrew their support from the library in the early 1940s. Mrs. Messenger led the dedicated volunteers to keep the library running. Although she did not have formal library training, Mrs. Messenger consulted regularly with librarians at neighboring libraries. She had an abiding love of books and once said, “Everything I know or have been able to learn, I have read in a book.” Mrs. Messenger donated books from her personal collection to help build the library’s collection.
In 1952, a new building was built on the east side of the Fox River for use as a Village Hall and Fire Department. The library moved into the space also used as a meeting room for the Village Board.
In 1962, a referendum was passed to support the library through local tax dollars. Two years later, the Fire Department moved to a new location, and the library expanded to the space the Fire Department had previously occupied. Mrs. Messenger continued to build the library and, in 1975, a separate room for the Youth Services Department was built. Summer Reading Programs and storytimes took place regularly. Mrs. Messenger was often found in the Youth Services Department, waiting to greet the children as they came in for programs.
In recognition of nearly 50 years of service to the library, the board of trustees voted to re-name the library the “Messenger Public Library of North Aurora” in 1985. Mrs. Messenger retired the following year at age 84.
Mrs. Messenger passed away on April 7, 2000 in Oswego, Illinois.