Madrona-Sally Goldmark Branch, The Seattle Public Library

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 12/05/2002
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 4034
The Madrona-Sally Goldmark Branch, The Seattle Public Library, located at 1134 33rd Avenue, serves the eastern portion of Seattle's Central Area. The branch has its roots in a pilot program called a Book-Tique in 1971. A surplus fire station nearby became the branch's home in 1973 and it was renamed for community leader Sally Goldmark (1907-1985) in 1986.

Sally Goldmark

In 1971, Madrona Community Council secretary Sally Goldmark (born Irma Ringe) began to work with fellow community council member Betsy Darrah, who also happened to serve on the Seattle Library Board, community council president Lillian Ashworth, and others to build a library for the neighborhood that included the Central Area. The closest branch was at 23rd Avenue E and Yesler Way, but crime in that area discouraged users, particularly at night. That year, Seattle was in the depths of an economic downturn called the Boeing Bust, and there was no money for new branches.

Goldmark and Darrah proposed a three-month trial program for a community reading center they called a Book-tique. They got $10,000 in funding from the Washington State Libraries Commission and support from the library system, the Mayor's Office of Youth Development, and volunteers from the community council. They used a vacant storefront at 1410 34th Avenue E and fixed it up with shelves, benches, pillows, chairs, and tables. Some 500 hardbound books and 1,000 paperbacks were stocked and children's literary activities were scheduled. Two college students on a work-study program staffed the center under the supervision of Yesler Branch Children's Librarian Linda Brass. Other children's librarians offered their help on their days-off.

The Book-Tique opened on July 12, 1971, six days a week, eight hours a day. Initial use was high and 60 books a day were checked out. Library cards were not needed, but borrowers were asked to note their names and addresses on the charge-out cards. After school started in September, patronage dropped off substantially and the doors closed at the end of the month.

Goldmark kept up her pressure for a library. Fire Station No. 12 at 33rd Avenue E and E Union Street closed in 1972 and it was an ideal spot. That intersection was a focal point of youth activities because of Madrona School and a playfield there. The City already owned the building. Goldmark worked through the bureaucracy and got the Building Department to rent the empty space to the library for $100 a year. The library set about remodeling the 1919 structure.

Stationhouse Branch

The Stationhouse Branch Library officially opened on February 11, 1973, five days a week with Virginia Bradford in charge. In 1984, the branch received an aluminum sculpture by Richard Beyer (1925-2012), who also sculpted the well known Waiting for the Interurban, named The Peaceable Kingdom. The life-size casting on the lawn depicted a panther, pig, sheep, and wolf. The animals have their paws on a book.

On May 31, 1985, Sally Goldmark died. The branch was renamed the Madrona-Sally Goldmark Branch the following year in recognition of her work in the community on behalf of education and peace and understanding.

A Library for All

In 1998, Seattle voters approved $196.4 million in "Libraries for All" bonds to replace the central library, to renovate or replace all 22 branches and to build three new branches. On May 10, 2008, the Madrona-Sally Goldmark Branch reopened after an $893,000 renovation designed by Heliotrope Architects.

The renovation opened up the interior of the small structure and provided substantially more books and materials.

Librarians in Charge

  • Connie Manson (pre-professional), 1973
  • Virginia Bradford (clerk III in charge), 1974-1976
  • Regional Management, 1977-1990
  • (Unavailable), 1990-2001
  • Valerie Garrett-Turner, 2001
  • Miriam Driss, 2002
  • Valerie Garrett-Turner, 2003-2005
  • Daria Cal, 2005-2006
  • Valerie Garrett-Turner, 2006-present

Sources: Mark Higgins, "Neighbors Have Worked Together To Build Better, Safer Home," The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, October 4, 1997, (seattlepi.nwsource.com); "Madrona Book-Tique," folder, Seattle Public Library Archives; Linda Brass, "Report on the Madrona Book-Tique," photocopy of typescript, November 5, 1971, Seattle Public Library Archives; "Madrona Branch History," looseleaf binder, Seattle Public Library Archives; Seattle Public Library uncataloged archival materials, Box 4, "Personnel Staff Day," folders "Staff Directory 1950," and "Staff Directory 1956," and "Staff Directory 1960-1969," and unmarked folder containing staff directories 1970-1977, Seattle, Washington; Library Board of Seattle, Minutes of Proceedings, Vols. 5 (1934-1944), 6 (1945-1951), 7 (1952-1957), 8 (1958-1961), 9 (1962-1966), 10 (1967-1970), 11 (1971-1973), 12 (1974-1976), 13 ( 1977-1978), Seattle Room, Central Branch, The Seattle Public Library, Seattle; Don Duncan, "Bringing Books to Readers," The Seattle Times Sunday Magazine, August 22, 1971, p. 7.
Note: This essay was updated on September 10, 2008, and again on April 3, 2009. It was corrected on April 4, 2011, and again on October 31, 2013.

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