West Seattle Branch, The Seattle Public Library opens on July 23, 1910.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 9/22/2002
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 3960
On July 23, 1910, the West Seattle Branch, The Seattle Public Library officially opens. The library was built with a grant from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) at the corner of College Street W (later SW College Street) and 42nd Avenue SW. The collection of 5,546 books begins circulation two days later.

West Seattle was a separate city until Seattle annexed it in 1907. In 1908, West Seattle businessman and booster Uriah R. Neisz and other residents donated building lots to the City of Seattle for the purpose of a library. Carnegie provided $35,000 of the $38,344 cost of construction. Seattle architects W. Marbury Somervell (1872-1939) and Joseph Coté designed the building and it was completed in March 1910. The library board delayed the opening until summer when the branch was completely ready for service.

On opening day, Mayor Hiram Gill (1866-1919) addressed the gathering and declared, "There are two things upon which I will never advocate the use of a pruning hood and which I may urge even to extravagance. Those are libraries and parks and playgrounds." He went on to say, "The public library is the finest place in the world for the boy, and if he is allowed to spend his time there, he will form tastes that will keep him out of mischief as he grows older" (Seattle P-I).

The new branch featured story hour rooms, a loan lobby, and children's reading rooms. Library assistants answered questions for visitors. The first branch librarian was Dorothy Hurlbert, who had headed the Ballard Branch.


Sources: Karen Speil, "West Seattle Library Timeline," typescript, Archives, West Seattle Branch Library; "West Seattle Branch -- Quarterly Reports," folder, Ibid.; "West Seattle Library Opened," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 24, 1910, p. 3; "West Side Library To Open Tomorrow," The Seattle Times, July 22, 1910, p. 5.

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