The Seattle Public Library opens in April 1869.

  • By HistoryLink Staff
  • Posted 1/01/2000
  • Essay 1938

In April 1869, Seattle's Library Association opens a loan library, the future Seattle Public Library. Sarah Yesler (1822-1887) is the first librarian

For pioneer towns accustomed to only churches or saloons for social life, the library represented an alternative for the community of readers. Among the titles listed for early acquisition by the association were Ralph Waldo Emerson's Essays and Percy Shelley's Collected Poems. The committee overruled its one member who objected that Shelley was a "freethinker."

Sources: Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, "Times and Tomes Past: A Pictorial History of the Seattle Public Library," (by Paul Dorpat with Chris Goodman), (accessed November 3, 2000); Judy Anderson, Gail Lee Dubrow, and John Koval, The Library Book: A Good Book for a Rainy Day (Seattle: Seattle Arts Commission, 1991), 5.

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