This year marks the 111th anniversary of the Houston Public Library. Opened in 1904 thanks to a grant from Andrew Carnegie, the library was then known as the Houston Lyceum and Carnegie Library. Houston’s first librarian, Julia Ideson, was also hired at this time. Even back then Ms. Ideson embodied the Houston Public Library’s mission today of linking people to the world. She installed book deposit station stations in schools, supported the establishment of a library for Houston’s African American citizens during the time of the Jim Crow laws, and purchased Houston’s first bookmobile.
In 1921, the library was officially renamed as the Houston Public Library (HPL), and a new building in the Spanish Renaissance style was completed in 1926. Today, this building is home to the Houston Metropolitan Research Center, one of HPL’s three special collections libraries. In 1945, in one of her last annual reports, Julia Ideson wrote that the “demands for library service grow with the increasingly complexity of life.” She served the Houston Public Library and the City of Houston with her incredible vision and leadership for 41 years. The building in which she served from 1926 until she retired was named the Julia Ideson Building in her honor in 1955.
Over the years HPL has continued to expand its services throughout the city. The 1970s were a time of tremendous growth in Houston, and eleven branch libraries were opened during this time. In 1977, the Jesse H. Jones Building opened to the public and continues to serve as the Central Library for Houston. Today the Houston Public Library system is comprised of 44 public service units with the Central Library in downtown Houston as the anchor to this constellation of service points. HPL links people to the world through a broadly defined platform of educational, recreational, and cultural programs and services for persons of all ages and ethnicities throughout Houston and the surrounding region.
You can learn more about the fascinating history of the Houston Public Library at the following links:
Lyceum to landmark: the Julia Ideson Building of the Houston Public Library
100 years – 100 stories : [Houston Public Library 1904-2004], by Betty Trapp Chapman
Julia Ideson and 110 years of the Houston Public Library
Ring Neighborhood Library: Celebrating 50 Years of Service
The Gregory School through the years
In 2014, the Houston Public Library launched its exciting new library card. The Houston Public Library Card, MY Link, has many benefits that will link YOU to many Worlds of information and entertainment. MY Link Library Card opens doors for you – linking YOU to the things you like and the things you love – from streaming music and movies, e-books and audiobooks, to access to more than 130 databases and resources on countless subjects that you can use to build, create or learn anything you want...not to mention access to library collections from across the nation, all free for YOU.
I have MY Link. Do YOU have yours?
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