Dream: Central – Building the Library of Tomorrow

History Of Downtown Project :: Development of the Arlington Public Library System

Arlington Library is proud to work in collaboration with Fielder House and other local organizations to provide researchers with access to historical photos


Collection started from 300 books in wooden crates in 1923 to 800 in 1927

March 19, 1923 – The Arlington Station of the Tarrant County Free Library opened in the corner of the lobby of the Farmer’s National Bank Building. Miss Pearl Wade is librarian.

June 1923 – The library was moved to the Graber Building on West main in a room over the Texas theater. This building was later renamed the First National Bank Building of Arlington.


1930 – The Arlington Library Association contributed supporting funds, supplemental to the annual Tarrant County appropriation. Each member organization contributed $5 to $20 a year and the association also conducted other fundraising activities.

1933 – Circulation reaches 11,957.

March 1933 – Mrs. Irene Lee becomes librarian.


1947 – Mrs. Lee’s salary was $12 per month.


1958-1961 – $100,000 in general obligation bonds were approved by the voters in 1961. These funds were used to buy the First National Bank Building. This was originally the Graber building which housed the Library in 1923.

1950 – The City Council made its first appropriation to supplement the salaries of the 2 member library staff.

1951 – Circulation reaches 19,861.

1953 – This City Council made its first appropriation of $500 for the purchase of books.

July 1953 – Horace Cooper donated his two-story residence, which was moved to its present location at the entrance to Meadowbrook Park. The City paid for
the moving of the house and laid the new foundation. Business and civic groups contributed to the renovation of the Cooper home.

May 1, 1954 – The City of Arlington, with Mayor Tom Vandergriff, assumed full control of the library and a Library Board of Trustees was appointed.

September 10, 1954 – Open house at the Cooper Memorial Library was held from 7-10 p.m.

1958 – Library had a total of over 20,000 volumes.


November 11, 1962 – Public dedication and formal
opening of the library at 106 W. Main Street.

1963 – Mrs. Lee retires after 30 years of service. Mrs. S.E. McClain becomes librarian.

1965 – Mr. Jack A. Corliss becomes the librarian.

1967 – A study of building needs leads to the passage of a $1.4 million bond program for a new Central library building and three branch buildings.

November 21, 1968 – Arlington decides to build the Central Library downtown.


January 10, 1970 – The original Southeast Branch at 1624 New York Ave opens.

September 26, 1970 – The original North Branch at 918 North Cooper Street opens.

January 9, 1971 – The third original branch, Southwest, was opened at 1308 South Bowen Road.

July 31, 1971 – Ground breaking for the Central Library.

February 1972 Gone with the Wind is the most checked out book.

January 20, 1973 – The present Central Library was opened at 101 East Abram Street.


1983 – The Friends of the Library organization was founded.

1985 – County funding of libraries was discontinued ending 65years of county support to Arlington’s library system.  A fee for non-residents was adopted.

October 18, 1986 – Southwest Branch was opened at 4000 Green Oaks Boulevard West.


June 1990 – Dr. Betsy Burson becomes director of the libraries.

November 10, 1991 – KPMG Peat Marwick study of the Central Library recommended expansion of the library system. The Friends of the Library and the Library Advisory Board launch efforts for passage of a new bond program.

October, 1993 – The Library System moved from a physical card catalog to a computerized catalog. This same year, the Arlington Public Library Foundation established a mission to financially support the Library System.

January 16, 1994 – Bond issue for $9.6 million passed providing funds for collection development and renovation existing buildings, and construction of new buildings.

February 14, 1994 – ALIS is born. The Arlington Public Library System is computerized with an OPAC (online catalog) and online checkout system called ALIS.

July 24, 1994 – The Central Library was renamed the George W. Hawkes Central library honoring the longtime editor and publisher of the Citizen-Journal. This was followed by a system-wide expansion of the branch libraries.

1994 – Arlington Public Library Foundation was established.

February 3, 1996 – Ground breaking for the Northeast Branch at 1905 Brown Boulevard.

May 1, 1996 – The Woodland West Branch closes at 1308 S. Bowen Road.

May 1996 – Mural at the Southeast Branch finished. Originally opened in 1970 as the Southeast Branch, East Branch is located at 1624 New York Avenue in the Park Plaza Shopping Center. The 17 ft. by 185 ft. wide bookcase mural on the north wall of the library was designed and painted by Carter Junior High students in 1996.

November 16, 1996 – The Woodland West Branch was relocated to the new quarters at 2837 West Park Row Drive.

December 21, 1996 – The North Branch at 918 North Cooper Street closes.

January 22, 1997 – The Southeast Branch is renamed the East Arlington Branch.

March 8, 1997 – The Northeast Library opened at 1905 Brown Boulevard.

February 1998 – Southwest Branch Library expansion was completed.

March 27, 1999 – East Arlington Groundbreaking and Springfest.


April 2000 – The East Arlington Library expansion completed.

January 18, 2001 – The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation assists the library system with a training center and computers for public access.

April 21, 2001 – Dr. Rick Smith becomes the library director.

2003 – The Southwest Branch Library was renamed the Lake Arlington Branch Library.

October 24, 2003 – The Southeast Branch Library opened at 900 SE Green Oaks Blvd.

June 6, 2004 – Cary Ann Siegfried becomes the director of the libraries.

November 2005 – The library begins using self check systems so customers may check out material on their own.

July 2007 – The library begins to offer downloadable audiobooks.

October 27, 2007 – The Southwest Branch Library opened at 3311 SW Green Oaks Blvd. Interestingly; this is our third branch to be called “Southwest,” mirroring Arlington’s tremendous growth through the years and Library System’s commitment to grow along with the city we serve.

October 2009 – The library increases the collection of Braille materials thanks to book and monetary donations.

Circulation of online eBooks and Audiobooks increased 142% from 2009 to 2010

April 2010 – Library begins offering eBooks.

December 2010 – Arlington Public Library becomes partners with the Mansfield Public Library.