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A look at the history of the Albany Library

Albany Library Manager Deborah Sica compiled a timeline of the history of the branch and other related details, along with sharing some historic images.The branch will celebrate its 100th anniversary at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 26 and the community is invited.

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Circa 1913 – The library is the second window on the right. The city offices were on the left.

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The second home of the Albany Library opened on Solano Avenue in 1952.

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Interior of the Solano Avenue location, that became cramped as the branch grew in popularity.

Historical Timeline:

· On April 12, 1909, the legislature of the State of California passed a law permitting the Board of Supervisors of a county to establish a county library system.

· The Alameda County Library system was established in 1910 and is governed by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.

· The Albany Library started as a takeout branch in a small room located on the south side of Solano Avenue.

· On December 4, 1913, under the librarianship of Mrs. Edith S. Hamilton, Albany Library opened in a one story store front building shared with Albany City Hall.

· On March 21, 1934, a second story was added to the building and the city offices remained on the first floor and the library occupied the second floor.

· On December 8, 1952, the Library relocated to 1216 Solano Avenue largely due to the dedication of Albany Citizen, Rosemary Paine, Vice President of the Albany Library Board.

· In 1969, the Friends of the Albany Library was founded and flourished due to the commitment of Mary and Bill Hartung and other dedicated community members. The first book sale was held on the patio of the library and raised $200 for the library. The Friends of the Albany Library continue to thrive and support the library with an annual operating budget of over $70,000.

· On January 24, 1994, the Library was relocated to 1247 Marin Avenue on the former site of the Albany Hospital.

· On January 26, 2014, the Albany Historical Society, in partnership with the Friends of the Albany Library, the City of Albany and the Alameda County Library, honored and celebrate the Albany Library’s Centennial.

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Clean Hands campaign – 1914

Librarian Lineage:

Mrs. Edith S. Hamilton (1913-1928)
Mrs. Kathleen Watkinson (1920-1928)
Mrs. Martha Woodworth (1923-1953)
Mrs. Mildred Hein (1928-1931)
Miss Shirley Preston (1931-1948)
Mrs. Kathleen Watkinson (1948-1962)
Miss Marian Blackie (1952-1954)
Mrs. Harriet V. Lee (1953-1954)
Mrs. Mary Popper (1954-1957)
Mrs. Elizabeth Anger (1962-1969)
Ms. Maria Jay (1969-1975)
Ms. Elaine Laessle (1975-1976)
Ms. Joan Ariel (1976-1981)
Ms. Ronnie Davis (1981-2013)
Ms. Deborah Sica (2013-current)

About the Alameda County Library: The Alameda County Library system provides and protects access to books, information and services that promote learning and enjoyment for everyone.

About the City of Albany: The City of Albany is dedicated to maintaining its small town ambience, responding to the needs of a diverse community, and providing a safe, healthy and sustainable environment.

About the Friends of the Albany Library: Friends of the Albany Library will act as a liaison between the community and the library; will help to extend and improve local library services; and will stimulate public support of the Library and other charitable organizations in the community.

About the Albany Historical Society: The purpose of the Albany Historical Society is to discover, preserve, and disseminate knowledge about the history of the Albany CA area. We encourage local residents to share their memories and knowledge of the past through story telling events and have begun to create a historical walking path in Albany using plaques commemorating important places and people. We hope to see you at one of our events soon.

Chris Treadway