In 1936, the population of Arlington County was 40,000. There were 74 farms, 25 businesses, two ten-cent stores, one theater, one post office, and five community libraries. Four of the libraries - Aurora Hills, Cherrydale, Clarendon (which closed when Central was built) and Columbia Pike - had been established by citizen groups, while Glencarlyn had been built as the result of a bequest. All housed collections of mostly donated books and were operated by volunteers.
Realizing the advantages of combining their forces, the groups organized the Arlington County Library Association in 1936. The County Board appropriated $3,000 for the new library association in July of 1936, so each library could buy at least two encyclopedias and an unabridged dictionary. The following year, the Department of Libraries was established as part of the county government, and the first librarian was hired.
In 1944, the Holmes branch was added for the benefit of the African American citizens of Arlington. It was located within the George Washington Carver housing project at 13th and South Queen. It closed in 1950 when the project was razed to make way for new housing.
In response to the Library's need for more space, work began on the Arlington Central Library in 1960 - this was Arlington County's first publicly financed library construction. Central Library opened in 1961, and additions were added to the 1st floor in 1967 and the second floor in 1968. The most recent renovation took place from 1990-1994, resulting in the present layout.
Arlington Public Library Directors include:
Jane Nida 1957 - 1980
Leila Saunders 1980 - 1986
Charles M Brown 1986 - 1994
Ann Friedman 1995 - 2006
Diane Kresh 2006 -
Read more in A brief history of the Arlington County Library by Jeanne Rose (1958), located in the Virginia Room
1015 N. Quincy St
Arlington, Virginia 22201
Reference Desk: 703-228-5959
Virginia Room: 703-228-5966
Youth Services: 703-228-5946
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