The Saint Paul Public Library

St. Paul, Minnesota, is home to the Saint Paul Public Library, an American library system. There are twelve satellite libraries and a bookmobile that make up the library system. It’s one of eight libraries in the Twin Cities that make up the Metropolitan Library Service Agency.

When the YMCA first built a reading room in 1856, it marked the beginning of what would become the Saint Paul Public Library. The Saint Paul Library Association and the Mercantile Library Association were also founded the following year. In 1863, the Saint Paul Library Association was formed as a consolidation of these earlier efforts.

Alexander Ramsey led the Library Association in 1879 when it recommended to the city that they take over care of the library’s holdings and turn it into a public library that anyone could use for free. The Saint Paul City Council finally appropriated $5,000 in September 1882 to open the library. As of this date, there were 8,051 books in the library’s collection.

In the years that followed, the library expanded dramatically. There were calls for a new structure as far back as 1890. In 1900, however, the library relocated to the Seventh Street location of the former Market Hall. The library’s 158,000 volume collection was lost in a fire that engulfed the whole Market Hall building in 1915, despite the efforts of many city officials to have a new library constructed. The new Central Library, which had been under construction at the time of the blaze, was completely destroyed.

The Central Library’s replacement had been planned for years before the 1915 blaze. In 1909, with Mayor Lawler at the helm, construction on a new library began in earnest. In 1910, the library board began debating how to raise the estimated $500,000 needed to construct a new building on the location selected in Rice Park.

James J. Hill, a wealthy railroad tycoon, contributed $700,000 in 1912 to build and fund a reference library that would be connected to the public library. Almost simultaneously, the state legislature authorized the issuance of $600,000 in bonds for the construction of the new facility, the subscription campaign raised $100,000, and $30,000 was received as a bequest from Greenleaf Clark. The library board had already enlisted the help of Charles Soule, a library consultant based out of Boston, by the following fall of 1912. In 1914, construction on the Central Library began. The final construction cost of the entire structure, including the Hill Reference Library, was close to $1.5 million.

Harriet Island Regional Park
St Paul Tree Care

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