We’ve come a long way. One-hundred years ago, Saint Paul Public Library (SPPL) expanded from a single building to a network of neighborhood libraries, improving access to books and resources for Saint Paul residents. This year we celebrate the centennial of four of those early buildings: Arlington Hills, which is now Eastside Freedom Library, George Latimer Central, Riverview, and Saint Anthony.
100 Years/100 Stories is an expanding collection of stories from our community, as told through written word, photography, audio, and video. They are all unique, and yet they share a similar thread of living and learning in Saint Paul. We are proud to have been a gathering place for Saint Paul residents for 100 years and look forward to serving the city for 100 more.
Mark your calendars for the Saint Paul Public Library's Story Fair on May 21 from 12 to 3 p.m. at Arlington Hills Community Center!
The Story Fair will kick off a series of celebrations to honor those libraries turning 100 this year: Arlington Hills and Eastside Freedom Library, George Latimer Central, Riverview, and Saint Anthony. The Story Fair will focus on telling and collecting stories from our community. Here are some of the planned activities.
Four Saint Paul Public Library locations are turning 100 this year, and we invite you to the join us at these celebrations starting in July. Three neighborhood branches — Arlington Hills (now the East Side Freedom Library), Riverview, and Saint Anthony Park — are Carnegie Libraries that opened in 1917. The George Latimer Central library in downtown by Rice Park, an Italian Renaissance masterpiece, also opened its doors in 1917.
Saint Anthony Park Library: Garden Party & Community Art Project
Monday, July 17 from 5-7 p.m.
Saint Anthony Park Library (2254 Como Avenue), invites everyone to celebrate 100 years with them on Monday, July 17 from 5-7 p.m. Bring a picnic dinner to enjoy on the library lawn and enjoy a puppet show, art activities for all ages, garden tours, a chance to share your library stories, and more. Watch for information about a community art project this fall.
Riverview Library: 100th Birthday Block Party
August 5 from 12:30 to 2 p.m.
Riverview Library (1 East George Street), located on Saint Paul's West Side, is holding a 100th birthday block party in front of the building on George Street on Saturday, August 5 from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Bring the family for music, activities, and cake!
Arlington Hills: World Dance Party
Saturday, September 30 from 1-4 p.m
In 2014 Arlington Hills Library joined Arlington Hills Recreation Center to open the new Arlington Hills Community Center, which is located right around the corner from the former Arlington Hills Library building. The old building now houses the East Side Freedom Library and both libraries are partnering to offer a World Dance Party celebration at the Arlington Hills Community Center (1200 Payne Avenue) on Saturday, September 30 from 1-4 p.m. All ages welcome -- bring your dancing shoes!
George Latimer Central Library: Renaissance Fair
Sunday, October 15, 1-4 p.m.
And last, but not least, the flagship library in downtown Saint Paul, George Latimer Central Library, 90 West 4th Street, will host a Renaissance fair on Sunday, October 15, 1-4 p.m.
Immigration Then and Now: The Making and Remaking of the East Side
East Side Freedom Library (1105 Greenbrier St.): May 9, 7-8:30 p.m.
100 Years at the Library
Saint Anthony Park Library (2245 Como Ave.): May 16, 7 p.m.
Three speakers present a look at the Saint Paul Public Library 100 years ago, from one of the Carnegie libraries celebrating a centennial. Greg Gaut will discussing the Carnegie Library project in Minnesota; Bill Lindeke focuses on St. Paul’s four libraries celebrating centennials; and Billie Young provides a glimpse into what the library was like 100 years ago.
A Celebration of the Writers Who Developed Their Stories on the East Side and in the Arlington Hills Public Library.
East Side Freedom Library (1105 Greenbrier St.): June 13, 7-8:30 p.m.
New Ways to Tell Your Story
Digital Scrapbook: Your Story. Our Shared Experience. (Launching May 21)
On May 21 at the Story Fair, we will unveil the library's new Digital Scrapbook platform, an online space where we will exhibit community stories through written word, photography, audio, and video. Patrons will have the opportunity to explore the platform, along with other storytelling tools, at the Story Fair.
StoryPhone: Leave Your Story After the Tone
It's a really simple idea: what if you could call up the library and leave a story via voicemail? StoryPhone allows you to tell your story on your own time, in whatever setting you choose. Simply call 612-314-9662 and leave your story voicemail.
StoryKit: One Kit. Hundreds of Ways to Tell Your Story. (Coming Soon)
Featuring a fun, easy-to-use set of audiovisual and artistic tools, telling your story has never been easier with StoryKit. Starting in May, patrons will be able to check out StoryKits for up to three weeks.
Centennial Libraries: A Brief History
From 1905 to 1917 the Arlington Hills neighborhood was served by a "library station" located in Bodin's Drug Store. In 1917, a permanent structure was opened, funded by Andrew Carnegie and designed by city architect Charles Hausler. Built in the Beaux-Arts style, the building is graced with classical columns and sculptural details.
This neighborhood has historically been home to Saint Paul's newest residents. More than 100 years of library services have continually evolved to serve immigrants of Swedish, Irish, Italian, Mexican, Hmong, Latino, and African origins.
Arlington Hills Library was modernized in 1958 and renovated in 1987 and 1997.
In 2014, public library services moved to Arlington Hills Community Center. The Carnegie library building became home to East Side Freedom Library, dedicated to the work and residential history of the East Side.
Riverview Library serves Saint Paul's West Side which is bordered by the Mississippi River on the north, east, and west and the city's boundary along Annapolis Street to the south. Andrew Carnegie provided funding for the building. It was designed by city architect Charles Hausler and is noted for its tall Palladium-arch windows that line all four sides of the building.
Riverview Library has been considered a neighborhood anchor since it opened in 1917 and was strongly defended against possible closing in the 1980s. The building, remodeled in 1989, is a comfortable space which attracts a cross section of the neighborhood, both longtime residents and new arrivals.
Saint Anthony Park
Saint Anthony Park Library is considered an icon of this picturesque neighborhood in northwestern Saint Paul. A park-like lawn with many benches invites patrons to linger with a book. This 1917 Carnegie library was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. An award-winning 1999 renovation added a rotunda to the rear of the building which includes an expanded children's services area. This inviting space, combined with a juvenile collection that is well funded through a private grant, make it a "destination library" for young families, teachers, and school visits.
The library has an active Library Association which has served the community since 1934. The annual Arts Festival, held the first Saturday in June, is its major fundraiser. Funds from this festival are used to underwrite additional summer youth programming.
George Latimer Central Library
On September 7, 1882, the City Council established the Saint Paul Public Library with a collection of 8,051 books.
In 1900, the library moved to the old Market Hall, located on 7th Street. Many civic leaders pushed for the construction of a new building, but the library remained in Market Hall until a fire destroyed the building—including the library and its collection of 158,000 books—in 1915.
Planning for the new Central Library occurred well before the 1915 fire. In 1910, leaders determined the future library's site on Rice Park. Railroad baron James J. Hill offered to contribute funds to a reference library attached to the public library, and additional monies were raised through a subscription campaign -- a bequest from Greenleaf Clark -- and the sale of bonds. The ground for Central Library was finally broken in 1914. The entire building, including the Hill Reference Library, was completed in 1917 at a cost of approximately $1.5 million.
Electus Litchfield was the architect of Central Library. Litchfield studied architecture with the New York firm of Carrere and Hastings, designers of the renowned New York Public Library. Litchfield's design for Saint Paul's Central Library was heavily influenced by the design for the J. P. Morgan Library in New York.
Central Library was designed in the Italian Renaissance Revival style. Some features marking the style include round-arched windows, Palladian style entrances, large stonework, a balustrade, which surrounds the building, rondel features near the arched windows, the use of classical columns and pilasters, and the cornice, which caps the structure. The style was continued throughout the interior of the library.
The exterior of the library is of Tennessee marble, while the interior is finished in gray Mankato stone. Blue Rutland and golden vein Formosa marble are also used in select areas.
In 2014, Central Library was renamed the George Latimer Central Library, in honor of George Latimer, a former mayor of Saint Paul.
Bookmobile services in Saint Paul date back to 1917, when books were brought to playgrounds throughout the city. Since that time, SPPL has owned six Bookmobiles.
The Bookmobile ensures the mission, services, and collections of the Library are known by and accessible to communities that face barriers in using the Library's fixed facilities. The Bookmobile visits 45 to 50 sites on a regular basis in a two-week cycle.