South Park Branch of The Seattle Public Library opens on September 9, 2006.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 12/17/2006
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 8031
On September 9, 2006, the new South Park Branch of The Seattle Public Library opens. This is the first branch to serve the South Park neighborhood since it was annexed to Seattle in 1907. The $2.94 million building holds 19,000 books, about one third of which are in Spanish to serve the predominantly Hispanic population of the area.

South Park joined Seattle in January 1907, but was never served by a branch library. The new Seattle residents petitioned for a branch library in 1908. From time to time, pharmacies and grocery stores served as book deposit sites and readers could check out the few volumes available there.

A bookmobile began serving West Seattle and the nearby Boeing Airplane Company in 1931, but the Great Depression of the 1930s saw mobile services and the deposit stations cut. The bookmobile reappeared in the late 1940s and South Park enjoyed weekly visits by vans nicknamed Molly and Benny and Ramona. By 1998, Seattle enjoyed the services of 22 branch libraries, but South Park’s library services continued to be on wheels. Readers other library options were West Seattle, High Point, or, after 2004, Delridge.

In 1998, Seattle voters approved the $196.4 million Libraries for All levy which provided for a new central library, remodels to the 22 existing branches, and five new branches. South Park was not on the original list of new libraries, but a Citizens Review Panel established by city officials listened to the community and set aside $2.5 million to build one of the new branches there. Seattle Public Library Trustee Linda Larsen served as the project’s special steward.

Johnston Architects of Seattle prepared a design that incorporated both a Southwest theme such as stucco and Northwest touches like raw cedar paneling. Cope Construction built the 5,000 square foot structure at 8604 8th Avenue S (at Cloverdale).

The grand opening was advertised with a banner reading, "La nueva biblioteca de South Park abre al mediodia sabado 9 de septiembre" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer). On September 9, visitors heard from a mariachi band and signed up for more than 100 new library cards in the first hour.


Sources: Cara Solomon, “Neighborhood Welcomes Opening of Its Own Library,” The Seattle Times, September 10, 2006, p. B-2; “South Park, Sand Point Libraries Proposed,” Ibid., August 14, 2000, p. B-3; Kathy Mulady, “A Bilingual Library to Call Their Own,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, September 9, 2006, p. B-1; HistoryLink.org the online encyclopedia of Washington State History, “Mobile Services, The Seattle Public Library -- The Bookmobile,” (by David Wilma), http://www.HistoryLink.org/ (accessed November 10, 2006).

Related Topics:   Education | Seattle Neighborhoods | The Seattle Public Library

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