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Alexandria Library Timeline -- 1794 - Present

 

1794-1937 1937 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s   1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s

 

1794

July 24, 1794

Alexandria Library established as subscription institution by Alexandria Library Company. They charge an annual fee of $5. Edward Stabler voted first secretary and librarian and James Muir elected president.

Books probably were housed in the back room of Stabler’s Apothecary Shop

 

1796

James Kennedy appointed librarian

 

1797

Library is incorporated. First catalog published, which listed the holdings in the hundreds.

 

1818

Collection moved to the New Market House, adjacent to City Hall

William G. Cranch apppointed librarian

 

1830

George Drinker appointed librarian. John Leadbeater appointed assistant librarian and “Guardian of the Reading Room.”

 

1840

Library housed in The Lyceum

 

1850

Norval E. Foard named librarian

 

1852

The “Young Men of the Town” Society takes over management of the Library Company

 

1856

Circulation: 3,000

Volumes: 4,481

 

1861

The City of Alexandria occupied during the Civil War and the Lyceum used as Federal hospital. Books housed in homes of Alexandria Library Company members.

 

1868

Library housed at the Alexandria Christian Association

 

1870

August Hening appointed librarian

 

1873

Emma J. Young appointed librarian

 

1870-1879

Books moved several different times to various locations along King Street

 

1897

Alexandria Library Association forms and collection relocated to the Peabody Building

 

1900

August Hening appointed librarian

 

1902

Alice Green appointed librarian

 

1903

Library moved to Robert E. Lee Camp Hall at 806 Prince Street

 

1931

City Manager sets aside $1,000 for the establishment of a free public library

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1937

January 28, 1937

President of the Board Mary Powell Scott and Secretary Mary B. Smoot authorized to sign contract agreement between Dr. and Mrs. Robert Barrett, The Society of Friends, the Alexandria Library Association, and the City Council of the City of Alexandria for a library building.

 

 

February 22, 1937

Corner stone laid for the new library building

 

August 20, 1937

The first Alexandria Free Public Library opens at 717 Queen Street. Dr. Robert SBarrett Library 1937outh Barrett donates funds to erect the library in memory of his mother, Dr. Kate Waller Barrett, a humanitarian, social crusader, and political reformer. The Society of Friends grants a 99-year lease for use of its old Quaker Burial Ground on Queen Street as the site for the new building.

 

The Library Company signs an agreement with the Alexandria City Council, turning over its collections to the city. In turn, the city agrees to include operating expenses for the public library in its budget. First year’s budget is $5,000.

 

A Library Board is established, including three members of the Association (“The Company”), two members appointed by the Mayor, and two members of the City Council

 

Beatrice Workman appointed transitional librarian

 

1938

Catherine Scoggins appointed librarian

Circulation: 71,953; Cardholders: 3,781; Volumes: 5,535

 

1939

August 21, 1939

Sit-in at segregated Alexandria Library leads to the arrest of five African American men

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1940

April 22, 1940

Robert Robinson Library, named for a grandson of one of George Washington’s slaves, opens for black residents at 638 N. Alfred Street (now the Alexandria Black History Museum)

Evelyn Roper Beam appointed librarian

 

1943

Hazel Miller appointed librarian of Robert Robinson Library

 

1944

Barrett Library 1948

Sara Murphy Carr appointed librarian of Robert Robinson Library

 

1945

Circulation: 110,371

  

1946

An amendment to the charter states that the Library Board is required to present its annual budget to the City Council

 

1948

Ellen Coolidge Burke appointed Director of Alexandria Library

Minnie Fuller appointed Librarian of Robert Robinson Library

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 Barrett Library 1947 

1950

Circulation: 156,700

 

1954

Addition built on Barrett Library: Floor space: 12,200 sq. ft.

Cardholders: 21,875; Volumes: 52,708

 

1955

Circulation: 267,115

 

1958Bookmobile 1972

Jeanne G. Plitt appointed librarian

Library gifted 800 volume book collection on Virginia history and the Lee family by Cazenove G. Lee, Jr.

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1962

The Library begins bookmobile service

 

 

May 11, 1962

Robert Robinson Library closes

 

1964 Barrett Circulation Desk 1965

Addition built on Barrett Library: Floor space: 14,600 sq. ft.

 

1965

Circulation: 367,583

 

1968

Ellen Coolidge Burke Branch Library opens on Seminary Road: Floor space: 17,874

Bookmobile discontinues service

 

1969

James M. Duncan, Jr. Branch Library opens on Commonwealth Avenue: Floor space: 9,600 sq. ft.

Jeanne G. Plitt appointed Director.

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1971

An amendment to the charter states that three members of Board are citizens-at-large and one member from City Council

 Burke Branch Library 1970s

1973

Cardholders: 75,565

Volumes: 222,979

 

1976

Library leases the Lloyd House for its local history and rare books, manuscripts, and archives. Floor space: 7,500 sq. ft.

Back to Top Children at Apple II computer, Burke Library, circa 1983

 

 

1980

Needs Assessment Study by King Research Company calls for “a new community library in the western end of the city,” as well as the remodeling of Barrett Library and additions to the branches.

 

1982

In October, the Library automates its catalog with GEAC. All library books are barcoded in a project that took a year to complete

 

1984-1985Children at reading table at Duncan Library, circa 1983

Friends of the Library groups established for each branch

 

1986

Bookmobile service reinstated

Young Adult services added for ages 12-16

Library catalog is automated

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1991

A new advocacy group, the Friends of the Alexandria Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, is formed

 

1992

Patrick O’Brien appointed Director

 

1993

Two free internet computers available at Burke Branch.

In May, Barrett Library closes for renovation. Mini library is established in South front room of Llyod House.

End of the 16mm film service and VHS are relocated to the branches.

 

1995

September 10, 1995

Barrett Library reopens, with four free internet computers available for patrons. The addition included the preservation and reinterment of original graves on the grounds of the Library.

 Quaker Burial Ground 1784 

1996

March, 14, 1996

The Library’s first website goes live

 

1997

A new web-based catalog system, GeoWeb was released.

 

1998

Alexandria Library Foundation chartered

 

1999

November 15, 1999

250th anniversary of the founding of Alexandria

Time capsule buried behind Beatley Branch, including the following items: letters from Jefferson-Houston Elementary School Students, City officials, and state and federal representatives; photographs of Alexandria buildings and streets; local artwork; brochures from City departments; statistics from Alexandria City schools; programs from local churches and synagogues; print-outs of City website home pages; and various pop culture artifacts.

Cardholders: 101,951; Volumes: 389,260

Bookmobile service ended in September

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2000 Beatley Central Library

January - Barrett closes for renovation to add Local History department. It reopens on March 20, 2000

On January 31, 2000 Charles E. Beatley, Jr., Central Library opens on Duke Street

November - Burke closes for renovations

CDs and DVDs are added to the system for circulation

 

2002

March 4, 2002

Burke reopens

 

2003

James M. Duncan, Jr. Library Foundation incorporated on July 30

 

2004

Duncan closes in mid-August 2004 for renovation, then moves to a storefront at 3809 Mt. Vernon Avenue

Beatley began providing free WiFi internet access

 Duncan Branch Library

September 22, 2005

Duncan Library reopens, the first City of Alexandria government building to have a green roof

Alexandria Library begins offering downloadable audiobooks through the online catalog via Overdrive

WiFi internet access is expanded to all branches

 

2006

Beatley Central Library receives City Beautification Award

In coorperation with the Burke Friends of the Library and the art students from the Hammond Middle School, a six panel mural of famous citizens of Alexandria was unveiled and dedicated on the back wall of the branch's parking lot. The six celebrated were George Washington, Francis C. Hammond, Mayor Bill Euille, State Senator Patsy Ticer, former T. C. Williams High School football coach, Herman Boone, and former Director and community leader, Ellen Coolidge Burke.

 

2007

Library circulates one million items in April 2007 (1,041,589)

Alexandria Library collaborates with The Foundation Center as a Regional Cooperating Collection: a large collection of Foundation Center print and online resources, including online training, are located at the Barrett. Foundation and Grant classes, arranged by Barrett staff, are offered to patrons.

 

2008

Rose T. Dawson is appointed the first African-American Director of Alexandria Library

All Alexandria Reads” program starts with the book “Marley and Me” by John Grogan

Through an ongoing partnership with Hammond Elementary School, Burke Library hung 4 more murals of famous Alexandrians.

 

2009

70th Anniversary of Alexandria Library Civil Rights Sit-In. During the 70th Anniversary Celebration, students from Samuel Tucker re-enacted the sit-in, Vice Mayor Kerry Donley read a Proclamation, and members of the media took pictures of the student re-enacting the photograph of the original young men being escorted from the library by police.

Beatley Central installs two self-check out machines to help eliminate the long check out lines

 

2010

In January 2010 the National Park Service (NPS) announced that the Special Collections Branch had been selected to join the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. This national program includes vetted places, resources and repositories for people studying the Underground Railroad. The Alexandria Library, Special Collections Division is one of three sites in Alexandria to be accepted by NPS and one of a handful of libraries to make the list.

Kate Waller Barrett Day is celebrated on May 20, 2010

Alexandria Library begins offering downloadable ebooks through the online catalog via Overdrive

 

2011

The Alexandria Library chosen to be Technology Zookeepers for Library of Virginia Region 5

In June 2011 Duncan Branch installs a self-check out machine

 

2012

In March 2012, the Virginia General Assembly legislated Senate Joint Resolution No. 231, which commends the Alexandria Library on the occasion of its 75th anniversary. 

In April 2012 Barrett Branch and Burke Branch installs self-check out machines

Special Collections staff authors the book Alexandria (Images of America), a pictorial history of the City of Alexandria, using vintage photographs and original documents to show how a small colonial town grew into a modern city. Set for release on July 2, 2012.

Solar panels are installed at Beatley Central Library

Alexandria Library celebrates its 75th anniversary as a public library on August 20, 2012


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