Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Seventeen Branches of the St. Louis Public Library

We have a wonderful library system in St. Louis. The St. Louis Public Library has a total of seventeen branches throughout the city.  The locations are strategically located throughout the city to provide optimal access to all residents. The map below shows just how spread out branches are to meet this goal:



Several of these buildings are works of art and harken back to Dale Carnegie's philanthropic goal of building over 1,600 libraries throughout the U.S. In fact, seven libraries were built in part through grants Carnegie made in 1901, five of which are still operational as libraries.


The history of the library system is rich:
The St. Louis Public Library dates to 1865 as the Public School Library Society of St. Louis. Originally a subscription library open only to paying members, it was opened to the public for reference and reading on the premises in 1874. During 1893-94 the Library was re-established by voters to be led by an independent board and supported by a property tax as a free service available to all St. Louis residents. (source)
As a proud resident and student of St. Louis history (albeit merely as a hobbyist), the library has proved a wonderful resource for gaining access to rare books, information, documents, maps and photos relating to St. Louis history. Most of the librarians who have helped me jumped to my aid with help and research that I humbly requested.

But you don't have to be a history wonk to enjoy the library, they have all the other amenities that make a library a cornerstone of a community.

Meeting spaces, books, periodicals, internet access, printer access, music, video games and movies are available free of charge with a valid membership.

Bottom line, I LOVE the library and each branch seems to have its own charm, unique service or vibe.  I wanted to give proper tribute to places that have helped me along the way and provided a place to vote, share the love of books with my children and an inspiring, welcoming place for them to hang, read, take after school tutoring, etc.  Heck, you can even catch some of the most talented local bands playing at the library under the NOT SO QUIET! concert series at the Central branch.

With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to visit and document each branch and highlight what I find interesting and unique. And of course, I can't resist another opportunity to dig into the stories of places and people in my favorite city.

So, here's a list of the seventeen branches in St. Louis (source). I will do a separate blog on each location and update the list with links to each story.
  1. Baden               8448 Church Road, 63147
  2. Barr                  1701 South Jefferson Avenue, 63104
  3. Buder               4401 Hampton Avenue, 63109
  4. Cabanne           1106 Union Boulevard, 63113
  5. Carondelet       6800 Michigan Avenue, 63111
  6. Carpenter         3309 South Grand Boulevard, 63118
  7. Central              1301 Olive Street, 63103
  8. Central Express  Ste. 160, 815 Olive Street, 63101
  9. Charing Cross   356 North Skinker Boulevard, 63130
  10. Compton*         1624 Locust Street, 63103
  11. Divoll**            4234 North Grand Avenue, 63107
  12. Julia Davis       4415 Natural Bridge Avenue, 63115
  13. Kingshighway  2260 South Vandeventer Avenue, 63110
  14. Machacek         6424 Scanlan Avenue, 63139
  15. Marketplace     6548 Manchester Avenue, 63139
  16. Schlafly            225 North Euclid Avenue, 63108
  17. Walnut Park     5760 West Florissant Avenue, 63120
* = by appointment only
** = the original Divoll was a Carnegie library located at 1257 Farrar Street, 63107. It closed in 1965 and the name was transferred to the current library on North Grand.

As I visit each library, I will undoubtedly need help finding information or photos of some of the missing items that I'd like to cover in these blog posts. I will keep a running tab of these "Mysteries At The Library" to take back to the Central Library and enlist the help of the experts.

Here's the on-going list that I will update as I complete my visits:

"Mysteries At The Library"
  1. Barr:  Did Cassilly do two matching lions at the front or just the one?
  2. Barr:  Who commissioned the "Franklin And His Whistle" sculpture and was it a work of Romanelli or his under-studies?
  3. Schlafly:  Since I posted a photo of Adelaide Schlafly, need to find one of her husband Daniel as the library is named in honor of the couple.
  4. Machacek: Where was the "Flyer Branch" that Machacek replaced?
  5. Baden and Buder-II were designed by John Senne, what was the third branch?
  6. Get a list of former libraries (Crunden, Fyler, Soulard, etc).
  7. What was the final year the Divoll location was open on Farrar street?
So keep checking in. Thanks for reading, and here's to a healthy and happy 2016!

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