Press Release - Detail
For immediate release, Monday October 24, 2011.
CONTACT: Charla Draper
Public Relations Dept. Head
Birmingham Public Library
Phone: (205) 226-3746

Birmingham Public Library Fact Sheet
  • Birmingham Public Library created in 1886, is the oldest cultural institution in Birmingham, Alabama.
  • In August of 1886, the private fee-based Birmingham Library Association, dissolved and bequeathed its 800-volume collection to school superintendent John Herbert Phillips. By September of 1886, Superintendent Phillips opened the first public library in a reception room adjoining his office, measuring a meager 15 feet by 18 feet in Birmingham’s high school.
  • In 1890, when the high school moved to the spot where the Tutwiler Hotel now sits, Superintendent Phillips was given a new library in the school.
  • The library was later moved to City Hall, where in 1925 both the building and the library collection were destroyed in a fire.
  • In 1927, a new neo-classical building of Indiana limestone was completed and served as the central site of the Birmingham Public Library for 57 years.
  • In 1984, the contemporary-style 133,000 square feet building was completed and connected to the original structure by a crosswalk.
  • In 1985 the original 1927 building was extensively renovated and renamed the Linn-Henley Research Library in honor of two of Birmingham's founding families. This facility houses the library's special collections, government publications, and administrative offices. Together these two buildings comprise the Central Library Complex of the Birmingham Public Library system.

The Birmingham Library Branches:
  • The branch system developed as the city grew and independent communities were   incorporated into the City of Birmingham.  The Woodlawn Library was the first  branch in 1911. Later in the same year, the Carnegie Library of Ensley was  brought into the system. In 1912, the Carnegie Library of West End merged with  Birmingham's library, followed in 1913 by the Carnegie Library of Avondale.
  • In 1914, the East Lake branch was organized.  In 1918, the Booker T. Washington Library at Smithfield was established to become the first—and at the time, the only—African American public library in Alabama. In 1921, the Wylam and Pratt City branches were opened.
  • The Birmingham Public Library, with 18 locations, is one of the largest library systems in the southeast. 

The mission of the Birmingham Public Library is to provide the highest quality library service to our citizens for life-long learning, cultural enrichment, and enjoyment.

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