H. C. Farrow Drug Stores Lending Library, Isle of Sheppey, Sheerness-on-Sea, Kent, England

1930s H. C. Farrow Drug Stores Lending Library Ticket No. 6

1930s H. C. Farrow Drug Stores Lending Library Ticket No. 6

The H. C. Farrow Drug Stores

The H.C. Farrow Drug Store, operated by Harold Claude Farrow (1900-1971), was located at 139 High Street, Isle of Sheppey, Sheerness-on-Sea, Kent, England, during the 1930s,.

Page 581 of 1930 Kelly’s Directory for Kent, England

Lending Libraries

Prior to the Public Libraries Act of 1850, libraries in England were mostly privately-funded institutions that allowed access through membership or subscription fees. Costly membership fees often precluded those with insufficient means from using early libraries.

A solution to this problem came by way of lending libraries. Often a small room or a shelf in a local business, church or school, lending libraries offered the general public a means for borrowing books in localities that were without public libraries.

Library of Hawaii, Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii

Pre-1954 Library of Hawaii Borrower’s Card No. M 8144 issued to Mrs. Margaret B. Jennings

Pre-1954 Library of Hawaii Borrower’s Card No. M 8144 issued to Mrs. Margaret B. Jennings (front)
Pre-1954 Library of Hawaii Borrower’s Card No. M 8144 issued to Mrs. Margaret B. Jennings (back)

Library of Hawaii

The Library of Hawaii, had its official beginning in 1909, when on April 17th of that year, the Territorial Governor of Hawaii, Walter Francis Frear (1863-1948), signed House Bill No. 143, Act 83, entitled “An Act to provide for the establishment and maintenance of the Library of Hawaii.” 1

Prior to the passing of the Bill, Governor Frear met with Andrew “Andy” Carnegie to discuss Carnegie’s offer of $100,000 to build a new public library building. By selling the property at the corner of Alakea and Hotel Streets, which was occupied by the The Honolulu Library and Reading Room Association (a membership library established in 1879), the proceeds  of the sale would aid in the establishment of the proposed public circulating library. In addition, the Association’s 20,000 volume inventory would be transferred to the proposed public library.2

The Honolulu Library and Reading Room Association at Alakea and Hotel Streets. Pre-1910. Photo by Ray Jerome Baker from the Bernice P. Bishop Museum, R. J. Baker Collection of the Kamehameha Preparatory Department. (Public Domain)

The Carnegie Library

In May 1910, it was announced that New York architect, Henry Davis Whitfield, Andrew Carnegie’s brother-in-law, was chosen to design the new library, and Honolulu architect, Henry Livingstone Kerr, would supervise the construction of the building.3 Whitfield, who also designed Eaton Hall at Tufts University (1908) and the Federal Building in Hilo, Hawaii (1915), was considered at the time to be the world’s foremost expert on library design, having already designed many of the larger Carnegie libraries. Kerr designed over 900 buildings in Hawaii, including Honolulu’s historic McCandless Building (1906) and the Yokohama Specie Bank Building (1910).

Construction of the new Library building began on Saturday, October 21, 1911, when a two by three foot by twenty inch ironstone cornerstore, inscribed “Library of Hawaii, 1911,”4 was laid by members of the Hawaiian Lodge during an elaborate ceremony officiated by the Masons. 

The Library Opens

On February 1, 1913, the Library of Hawaii opened to the public with much enthusiasm. Governor Frear, the recipient of Card No. 1, was issued the first book, “The Government of Our Cities,” by W. B. Munro, by the Librarian,Miss Allyn. A free concert by the Hawaiian Band, and speeches by Chairman A. Lewis, Jr., of the Library Board, and Prof. M. M. Scott of the Honolulu Library and Reading Room Association proceeded the official opening of the doors to the public.5

The Sunday Advertiser, Honolulu, Hawaii, February 2, 1913, page 10;

The two-story Mediterranean Revival style building located at 478 South King Street in Honolulu, was fronted by the signature Carnegie columns. Inside, patrons were greeted by an airy and spacious front delivery area, separate children’s area, catalogue, reading and reference rooms. A lanai reading room, and separate lecture, study, and children’s story rooms were located on the second floor In addition to the new library building, a traveling library was instituted to ensure citizens on islands other than O’ahu would have access to the new public service.6

Pre-1923 photograph by Rice and Perkins.(Public Domain)

In 1927, much needed renovations to expand the building were approved by the territory legislature. Two wings were added to the original building, as well as an open-air courtyard in the middle.

In 1978, the building was designated a historic site and was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The Library of Hawaii is now part of the Hawaii State Public Library System, which is comprised of fifty-one libraries on all of the major islands. The library system contains over 3 million books and reference materials.

Margaret B. Jennings

Margaret Bronson Jennings (1924-2018) born February 15, 1924 in New Orleans, Louisiana. She was an LSU fan and a member and officer of the Krewe of Attakapas.

Sources: [1] The Honolulu Advertiser, Honolulu, Hawaii, April 17, 1909, page 2; [2] The Hawaiian Star, Honolulu, Hawaii, March 26, 1909, page 4; [3] The Hawaiian Star, Honolulu, Hawaii, May 21, 1910, page 5; [4] The Hawaiian Star, Honolulu, Hawaii, October 16, 1911, page 8; [5] The Honolulu Advertiser, Honolulu, Hawaii, February 1, 1913, page 10; [6] The Sunday Advertiser, Honolulu, Hawaii, February 2, 1913, page 10.

San Diego Public Library, San Diego, California

Pre-1937 San Diego Public Library Borrower’s Card No. 75273 issued to Lee R. Moore

Pre-1937 San Diego Public Library Borrower’s Card No. 75273 issued to Lee R. Moore (front)
Pre-1937 San Diego Public Library Borrower’s Card No. 75273 issued to Lee R. Moore (back)

San Diego Public Library

San Diego Public Library (pre-1923 public domain postcard)

Opened to the public on July 15, 1882, the San Diego Public Library’s first location was the Commercial Bank building (aka the Consolidated National Bank) at 5th and G Streets.  The use of rooms on the 2nd floor2 was provided to the library non gratis for the first six month,1 after which rent was paid from the $650 city appropriation.

Commercial Bank Building (pre-1923 public domain photo; photographer unknown)

In 1893, the library was moved once again to the fashionable St. James Building at 7th and F Streets and would remain there for at least five years.3

Drawing from a 1890’s St James Hotel breakfast menu (No known copyright restrictions)

By 1898, the library began to outgrow its accommodations, so arrangements were made for space on the 4th floor of the new Keating Building at Fifth and F Streets.  Rent increased from $50 to $85, but the rooms were more spacious and well-lit, and a modern elevator made access to the library much easier.4 The Keating Building was designed by George J. Keating, founder of a farm equipment company, and built in 1890 by his wife, Fannie, after his death on June 25, 1888.


Keating Building.  Photo by John Margolies.  No known copyright restrictions.   From the John Margolies Roadside America photograph archive (1972-2008), Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

While the Keating Building provided adequate square footage to accommodate the growing library, library space had been a concern several years prior to the move into the Keating Building.   Efforts to raise funds for the building of a permanent home large enough to house the growing library was undertaken by the Ladies’ Wednesday Club as early as 1896.5. But it wasn’t until mid-1899, that a new library building became a realistic goal.  In response to a letter sent to the Andrew Carnegie Corporation by library trustee, Mrs. Lydia K. Horton, in which she asked for photographs of previously built Carnegie libraries in hopes that the photographs would spark interest by her fellow trustees, the Carnegie Corporation promised a $50,000 grant to build the first Carnegie library west of the Mississippi River.6  On April 23, 1902, the new library building opened at Eighth and E Streets.  The building designed by architects, Ackerman & Ross of New York, had room for 75,000 volumes and boasted a museum, art gallery, and lecture room. The Carnegie Library building would serve as the main library until 1952 when the building was razed to allow the construction of a new, modernized building. The new library opened at the same location on June 27, 1954. The current location of the San Diego Central Library is 330 Park Blvd. in San Diego.

San Diego Public Library and Comic-Con

Since 2013, the San Diego Public Library has partnered with Comic-Con and designed limited-edition comic-themed library cards, which are only available at the San Diego Public Library booth at the yearly Comic-Con convention in San Diego.  The 2019 card, of which only 3,000 were made available, features Waldo over an image of  the San Diego Central Library, which is located at 330 Park Boulevard in San Diego.  

2019 San Diego Public Library Special Edition Comic-Con Library Card and Keychain Card (front)
2019 San Diego Public Library Special Edition Comic-Con Library Card and Keychain Card (back)

Lee R. Moore

Lee Reed Moore was born August 7, 1921, in Kansas City; He was the son of Lee R. Moore, Sr  of Texas and Orpha Moore.  Lee R. Moore was a salesman for Ryan Aeronautical Co.  He died on April 29, 1980.

1 Catalog of the San Diego Free Public Library: Compiled by the Order of the Board of Trustees, by Lulu Younkin, April 1889

2 The Record (National City, California), June 11, 1885, p. 2

3 The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California) April 5, 1893, p. 7

4 The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California) April 7, 1898, p. 13

5 The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California), December 7, 1896, p. 5

6 The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California), July 18, 1899, p. 15

Pickering Library Association, Pickering, Missouri

1882 Pickering Library Association Dues Payment Receipt issued to J. J. Van Buren

1882 Pickering Library Association Dues Payment Receipt issued to J. J. Van Buren (front) 
1882 Pickering Library Association Dues Payment Receipt issued to J. J. Van Buren (back)

Pickering, Missouri

According to The History of Nodaway County, Missouri, published in 1882, Pickering, Missouri, located in the northwest region of Missouri, was home to about 200 residents in 1882. The town of Pickering was incorporated in 1879. While many businesses were developed in Pickering’s early days, there is no evidence that a public library was ever established. However, The History of Nodaway County, Missouri, references a circulating library (p. 674) and a library association (p. 682). The current population of Pickering is approximately 160, according to the 2010 census.

John W. Harman

John W. Harman (1842-1892) came to Pickering in 1872. In addition to being the secretary and librarian of the “circulating library” (see The History of Nodaway County, Missouri, p. 674). Harman was the Pickering station railroad agent, a hotel keeper, grain inspector, and postmaster, as well as a member and officer of A. F. & A. M. (Ancient Free and Accepted Masons) Lodge No. 473. Harman died of “consumption” in 1892. He is buried at the Mount Mora Cemetery in St. Joseph, Missouri.

Miles Wallis

Miles Wallis (born 3-10-1810-1903), a successful New York businessman and real estate dealer, came to Pickering in 1877, following his grandson, Dr. William M. Wallis, who settled in Pickering in 1872. Miles Wallis was the proprietor of the Pickering Hotel and served as the Mayor of Pickering. He was a co-founder and President of the “Library Association” (see The History of Nodaway County, Missouri, p. 682), and a generous contributor of “forty volumes of ‘standard works.'” Miles Wallis is buried at the Oak Hill Cemetery in Maryville, Missouri. The inscription on his gravestone reads: “93 years, 11 months, 6 days.”

J. J. Van Buren

A lifelong Missourian, and longtime resident of Pickering, James Jackson Van Buren was born November 23, 1849, in Savannah, Missouri. In 1879, Van Buren opened the town blacksmith business. Van Buren died October 17, 1926, and is buried at the Coleman Cemetery in Pickering, Missouri.

Bangkok Library Association, Bangkok, Siam

1913 Bangkok Library Association Subscription Dues Reminder Mailing Card addressed to Mrs. A. Link

1913 Bangkok Library Association Subscription Dues Mailing Card sent to Mrs. A. Link (front)
1913 Bangkok Library Association Subscription Dues Mailing Card sent to Mrs. A. Link (back)
Close-up of the Royal Coat of Arms of Siam (from upper right corner)
1897 Stereoscope image of the Royal Coat of Arms of Siam (public domain)

Bangkok Library Association

In 1869, the Ladies’ Bazaar Association, a charitable organization of English-speaking women living in Bangkok, Siam, founded the Bangkok Ladies’ Library Association to provide much-needed English-language books to the growing number of English-speaking residents of Bangkok. Bangkok, called “the key to Siam,” became home to many English-speaking missionaries and British trade agents during the reign of King Rama IV, due to trade agreements and Western expansionism.  

In the beginning, the small subscription library was open one day a week and staffed by volunteers. The library contents were housed in private homes and later the vestry of the Protestant Union Chapel. 

The library’s name changed to Bangkok Library Association in October 1911.

Jennie Neilson Hays 

Jennie Neilson Hays was born on September 19, 1859, in Aalborg, Denmark. As a Protestant Missionary, Miss Neilson arrived in Bangkok, Siam, in October 1884. In 1885, Miss Nelson began her relationship with the Bangkok Ladies’ Library Association conducting benefits for raising funds and assisting in library duties. Jennie Nelson Hays served as the Librarian of the Bangkok Library Association until her death of Cholera on April 26, 1920.  

Jennie Neilson Hays Passport Photo 1916

In a letter from the American Consulate, dated May 20, 1920, Carl C. Hanson, the American Vice-Consul in Charge, reported the death of Mrs. Hays to the Secretary of State of the United States, Bainbridge Colby.

The letter read:

Death of an American Citizen

Mrs. Jennie Neilson Hays

Sir:

I have the honor to enclose herewith a report of the death of an American citizen, Mrs. Jennie Nelson Hays, the wife of Dr. Thomas Heyward Hays, now living in Bangkok. Mrs. Hays always took the leading part on all occasions connected with public welfare and was well known for her charitable work. His Majesty the King of Siam sent a special message of condolences to Dr. Hays, and by the King’s command, a royal wreath was placed on the grave of Mrs. Hays. 

I have the honor to be Sir,

Your obedient servant,

Carl C. Hanson

American Vice Consul in Charge

After her death, Mario Tamagno, an Italian architect, was commissioned by her husband, Dr. Thomas Heyward Hays, to design a permanent home for the library on Surawong Road. The Neilson-Hays Library, a then state-of-the-art Neo-classical building, opened to the public on June 26, 1922.

Jennie and her husband, Thomas, are buried at the Bangkok Protestant Cemetery.

Mrs. Williamson

Lady Marion Maria Winifred Crozier Williamson served as President of the Bangkok Library Association.

Maria Crozier was born on October 21, 1875, in the former British territory of Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India. There she married Walter James Franklin Williamson on August 15, 1894. Sir Williamson was financial counsel to the government of Siam and later, a financial expert at the League of Nations. Sir and Lady Williamson are also known for the contribution to the ornithological community. Sir Williamson was a noted ornithologist whose collection is incorporated into the British Museum of National History. Lady Williamson is the namesake of the Indochinese Bush Lark species mirafra assamica marionae. Lady Williamson died on May 30, 1945, in London, England.

Mrs. A. Link

Erma Link was the wife of Adolf Link, a partner of B. Grimm & Co., importers, and merchants. Adolf Link joined B. Grimm & Co. as a manager in 1903. Under Adolf Link’s management, B. Grimm & Co. grew rapidly. However, at the outbreak of World War I, Siam joined allied forces and declared war on Germany. In February 1918, Siam’s government designated all German residents as enemies of the state. Consequently, Siam’s government seized the Link family’s possessions and placed the family in an internment camp in India. After World War I, the Links returned to Siam, but World War II resulted in house arrest. Despite the effects of the World Wars on the company, B. Grimm continues its 150-year history with Thailand, now operated by a 4th generation Link family. member

Winnipeg Public Library, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

1924 Winnipeg Public Lending Department and Non-Fiction Library Cards No. 22501 Issued to Robert Walls

1924 Winnipeg Public Library, Lending Department Library Card No. 22501,
issued to Robert Walls (front)
1924 Winnipeg Public Library, Lending Department Library Card No. 22501,
issued to Robert Walls (back)
1924 Winnipeg Public Library, Non-Fiction Library Card No. 22501,
issued to Robert Walls (front)
1924 Winnipeg Public Library, Non-Fiction Library Card No. 22501,
issued to Robert Walls (back

Winnipeg Public Library, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Winnepeg Public Library (Public Domain, Pre-1923 Postcard)

The Winnipeg Public Library had its beginning as a circulating library at the Historical and Scientific Society of Manitoba. In 1888, due to the disabling costs of maintaining their library, the Society transferred their 3,000 volume circulating library to the city and was renamed The City Library.  It was the intent of the Society for the transfer to become “the nucleus” for a new public library [from The Historical and Scientific Society of Manitoba Annual Report published 1888, p. 8].

Contrary to local gossip, it was not a free library. A news article in the Manitoba Free Press on February 25, 1888, sought to dispel the rumor, stating that the new library would continue to charge a $2 yearly membership fee to use the library. 

In July 1901, Andrew Carnegie Corporation began negotiations with the city of Winnipeg to fund a new library building. Conditions for funding a new library building were that the city would purchase a suitable site for the library and guarantee annual upkeep at a sum equal to 10% of the amount donated by the Corporation.  By August 1902, the city purchased a site at William and Dagmar Streets for $12,200.  In early November 1902, the Corporation released the funds for building the library, and on November 22, 1902, through an announcement in local newspapers, local architects were invited to submit designs for the new library.  In July 1903, Architect Samuel Hooper, and builders Smith & Sharpe were chosen for the tasks.  

On November 3, 1903, Sir Daniel McMillan (1846-1933), Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba, laid the library cornerstone, and on October 13, 1905, the library opened to the public.

In 1977, the Centennial Library (now known as the Millennium Library) was built at 251 Donald Street and the Carnegie building became a branch library, and subsequently, the City of Winnipeg Archives in 1995.  In 2013, the city began renovations to the Carnegie building, but due to serious damage sustained during a heavy rainstorm, the renovations were halted and the archive collections relocated.  The building currently stands empty and its future is unknown. 

Martin Memorial Library, York, Pennsylvania

Martin Memorial Library Card No. 20913 Issued to Mary Anne Sunday

Martin Memorial Library Card No. 20913 Issued to Mary Anne Sunday (front)
Martin Memorial Library Card No. 20913 Issued to Mary Anne Sunday (back)

Martin Memorial Library, York, Pennsylvania

Located at the corner of Market and Queen Streets since 1935, the library had its beginning in 1912 when Milton D. Martin, a local businessman, bequeathed $125,000 for the construction of a public library and another $20,000 to be held in trust for the maintenance of that library. Appointed Board members felt the sum too little to adequately provide for the library. Over the next two decades, legal issues hampered the establishment of the library, including whether to levy a tax on citizens, the library location, and whether the city could legally maintain the library. Public patience wore thin. The citizens presented petitions in favor of the library at public hearings, and letters to the editor questioned whether the “supposed” public library would ever exist. Eventually, the Board resolved all legal issues, and in September 1934, L. Reinholder & Son won the contract for constructions and interior shelving. On November 1, 1935, the long-awaiting Martin Memorial Library opened and hosted over 2,600 visitors on its first day, 480 of which became registered users. Architect Frederick G. Dempwolf designed the brick and limestone Pennsylvania Colonial-style building. The library has been in continuous use since 1935.

Martin Memorial Library (postcard with no known copyright restrictions)

Milton D. Martin

Milton D. Martin (November 23, 1859-December 31, 1912) was a prominent York business owner and local benefactor. Along with his father, Hiram, he manufactured buggies, carriages, and sleighs through the late 1800s. Although Hiram Martin & Son went bankrupt in 1888, Milton D. Martin later opened Martin Carriage Works of York, which eventually had upwards of 500 employees. In 1909, at the dawn of the electric car, Martin transformed his factory into an automobile and truck manufacturer.

Martin Carriage Works Ad, The Gazette, York Pennsylvania, February 3, 1912

In addition to his manufacturing businesses, he was President of the Guardian Trust Company of York, and a benefactor and Director of the York Hospital, to which he contributed funds to build an improved operating room.  

Milton D. Martin (author unknown) (no known copyright restrictions)

Upon his death, Milton D. Martin bequeathed $125,000 for the construction of a public library and another $20,000 to be held in trust for the maintenance of that library. His kindness was extended to his housekeeper of many years, leaving her $8,000, which today equals approximately $200,000. 

The Mullin Free Library for Boys, West Chester, Pennsylvania

1906 The Mullin Free Library for Boys Membership Card No. 376 issued to William J. Johnson 

1906 The Mullin Free Library for Boys Membership Card No. 376 issued to William J. Johnson (front)
1906 The Mullin Free Library for Boys Membership Card No. 376 issued to William J. Johnson (back)

The Mullin Free Library for Boys

The Mullen Free Library for Boys was a free library for patrons of Haberdasher, Tailor and Clothier, J. Charles Mullin’s clothing store located at 28-32 West Gay Street in West Chester, Pennsylvania during the early 1900s.  If a suit or overcoat was purchased at the store, the boy would receive a membership card that entitled him to use of the free library.   

From the Merchants Record and Show Window Illustrated Monthly Journal,
October 1908

J. Herbert Mullin

James Herbert Mullin (1872-1941) was a West Chester native.  He was educated at the Rugby Academy and Friends School.  Like his father, James Torbert Mullin, and brother, James Strickland Mullin, he was West Chester clothier.  Joining his brother at Mullin & Loomis (established with Esau Loomis), they operated a successful clothing store at 28-32 W. Gay Street.  In addition, James Herbert Mullin was a patron of the arts, and promoted music concerts in West Chester. 

Los Angeles County Public Library, Burbank Branch, Los Angeles, California

Pre-1935 Los Angeles County Public Library, Burbank Branch, Library Card No. 21-29-90 issued to Dale Jolley

Pre-1935 Los Angeles County Public Library, Burbank Branch, Library Card No. 21-29-90 issued to Dale Jolley (front)
Pre-1935 Los Angeles County Public Library, Burbank Branch, Library Card No. 21-29-90 issued to Dale Jolley (back)

Originally the Los Angeles County Free Library, the Los Angeles County Public Library (LACPL) was established after the “County Free Library Act” was enacted in 1912. Shortly after, the Burbank Branch was opened in May 1913. The original location of the library was at the corner of Olive Avenue and San Fernando Road.

By 1921, with a growing inventory of over 500 volumes, the Burbank branch library relocated to a room in the City Hall. Due to growing demand, in July 1925, the library began to open its doors twice weekly, and Burbank City officials saw the need to build a new Library. In February 1926, a new Library and Chamber of Commerce building opened at 219 North Olive Avenue.

By the 1930s, Burbank experienced rapid growth, which prompted city officials to make plans to detach from the Los Angeles County Public Library and open a municipal-owned library. In April 1934, three lots were purchased on Olive Avenue. Construction funds were raised locally, and books needed to stock the library were donated by Burbank residents. Eventually, all LACPL materials were returned, and in September 1938, the new city-owned library opened at 425 East Olive Avenue stocked with over 5,000 volumes.

By the end of the 1950s, multiple branch libraries opened with 7,000 to 10,000 volumes each, including the Buena Vista (Carolyn See, librarian), West Burbank, and North Glenoaks Branch Libraries.

In July 1963, a new two-story modernized building opened.

Article from the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, California, June 16, 1963.

The new building had a capacity of 200,000 volumes and four times the space of their former location at 425 East Olive Avenue, which was razed. The Central Library continues to operate from the Olive Avenue location.

Dale M. Jolley

Dale Marion Jolley was born in 1921 in Paul, Idaho. He graduated from Burbank High School in 1940. After high school, Jolley was signed by the Music Corporation of America as a saxophonist. He became a member of the Freddie Nagel Band and recorded with the Jack Teagarden Orchestra on recordings such as Big “T” jump in 1944. During the 1960s, Jolley gave private clarinet and saxophone lessons. Dale Jolley died in 1985 at the age of 63.

The National Library of the Philippines, Manila, Republic of the Philippines

March 1940 National Library Circulation Division (American Circulating Library) Supplemental Library Card No. 38218 S issued to Bernardino Orque from Araullo High School

March 1940 National Library Circulation Division (American Circulating Library) Supplemental Library Card No. 38218 S issued to Bernardino Orque
from Araullo High School (front)
March 1940 National Library Circulation Division (American Circulating Library) Supplemental Library Card No. 38218 S issued to Bernardino Orque
from Araullo High School (back)

The National Library of the Philippines was established as the Museo-Biblioteca de Filipinas through a royal decree by the then-ruling Spanish colonial government on August 12, 1887. The library opened to the public with 100 volumes on October 24, 1891. On December 10, 1898, as part of the peace agreement between Span and the United States to end the Spanish-American War, the territory of the Philippines was granted to the United States.  

During the American occupation, the Museo-Biblioteca de Filipinas was abolished and replaced by the American Circulating Library (ACL), which was stocked with books donated by the American Red Cross. By 1901, the ACL’s collection grew to over 10,000 volumes and proved challenging to manage. Thus, the ACL donated the library collection, mainly comprised of English-Language fiction, periodicals, and newspapers, to the government of the Philippines. The formal acceptance of the ACL’s library collection on March 5, 1901, ushered in the official beginning of the National Library and public library system of the Philippines. The National Library’s original location was Rosario Street (now Quintin Paredes Street), and growth necessitated a move to the Hotel de Oriente (on Plaza Calderon de la Barca) in 1904.

The American occupation proved chaotic for the library system in the Philippines. Over the next 25 years, the name, location, and governing of the library would change multiple times, but on December 7, 1928, Philippine Assembly would again become the governing body and changed the name of the library to the National Library. The National Library moved to the Legislative Building on Padre Burgos Street in Ermita and would serve as the library’s home until 1944.

The Legislative Building on Padre Burgos Street in Ermita, which now houses the National Museum of Fine Arts (Pambansang Museo ng Sining), would serve as the National Library’s home from 1928 to 1944. (public domain)

In 1942, the islands fell under Japanese occupation, and the US and Philippines military forces fought together during 1944-45 to regain control. Initially, the Japanese occupation did little to disrupt the functioning of the library, but the Battle of Manila resulted in significant destruction to the library’s collections.  

On March 23, 1960, construction began on a new building to house the National Library. The new six-story library building opened to the public on June 19, 1961, with a capacity of one million volumes. The National Library currently holds over 1.6 million pieces in its collection, including over 210,000 books; over 880,000 manuscripts, more than 170,000 newspaper issues from across the Philippines; theses and dissertations; government publications; 3,800 maps and 53,000 photographs.

The present home of the National Library of the Philippines, Manila, Philippines, 1964 (no known copyright restrictions)