Saturday, June 18
3:00pm - 4:30pm

Meet the family of one of Elgin's leaders, E.C. (Mike) Alft (1925 - 2021),
in the River Room. Watch words of tribute at 3:30 on Facebook Live.


Courtesy of the Daily Herald.

In memoriam, E. C. (Mike) Alft 

This community and library benefited immeasurably by Mike Alft’s contributions.  Mike served on our Library Board of Trustees from 1995-2007.  He served on our Library Foundation from 2001-2010.

As a library trustee, Mike was a participant in the planning for the present building and its branch. A staunch supporter of the Freedom to Read and the Library Bill of Rights, he led board discussions when community members questioned particular materials.  He also played Gail Borden at numerous library events.

Mike was named an Illinois Library Luminary, in recognition of his outstanding voice in the library community. 

Courtesy of Gail Borden's Studio 270.

Elgin Historians Briska, Alft, Stroud, Turnquist

Staff Memories

Mr. Alft visited the library at least 2-3 times a week, if not every day. We shared a mutual love of cats and always asked each other how our feline families were doing. Mr. Alft enjoyed relating the latest adventures of Abigail Adams and Benjamin Franklin, his two cats; their adventures consisted of eating and napping! He would then ask how my Virgil and Alice were doing. Sometimes when Mr. Alft was in the library he would fall asleep; we never woke him up. He would wake up suddenly and go back to his research. I don't think he ever realized he dozed off from time to time.


I often saw him at the Centre walking on the track. He had an ingenious way of keeping track of how many laps to a mile--he put 8 quarters in his left pocket and every time he passed his lap marker, he transfered one quarter from his left pocket to his right. When all the quarters were in his right pocket, he knew he had completed one mile.


Mr. Alft was a true gentleman, kind and caring. He loved his city, and we loved him. He will live on in our memories and in our history, which he preserved for us all. RIP, sir. - Tish

I connected with Mike in many ways - in working with press, about launching this new library exhibit concept and working on fundraising projects.  I was always impressed with the vast knowledge he possessed combined with his excitement about moving forward.  He featured so many facets of support for the library - he staunchly supported transparency and he also was more than willing to dress up like Gail Borden if it brought people to an event at the library. - Denise

Mike Alft was a champion of libraries.  He knew what a library needed to be in order to achieve greatness and be a tremendous asset to the community.  Because of his high standards, he challenged us at Gail Borden Library to be a model of 21st century library service.  I worked with Mike for so many years when he served on our Board of Trustees and also the Foundation.  He supported everything I did as the Executive Director of our library.  We were always in sync with our expectations of what our library could be and became to our community.  I so enjoyed our conversations about libraries and books.  He was the most voracious reader I have ever known and gave me his list of books that he had read from 1940 – 2012 which numbered 2,651!   There are very few people like Mike Alft.  Judging by all he accomplished, his life was truly a testament to the era in which he lived, The Greatest Generation. - Carole