Albina Library history

Albina Library's first location - a small reading room that housed about 100 books - opened in 1906, under the custodianship of Mrs. P.P. Leche. The exact location of that reading room is unknown, and circulation records for that first year do not exist today.

In September 1907, the library moved to a larger space in a vacant storeroom in the Emporium building on Williams Avenue. The Library Association of Portland's annual report for 1907 states, ".... on September 16, the branch was opened in charge of Miss Ella G. Dewart. The eagerness with which the people of Albina young and old have taken advantage of this library has been a surprise even to those who believed most thoroughly in it. It has been almost impossible to keep the shelves supplied with books."

Use of the collection continued to grow, so the library moved to larger quarters on Russell Street in 1909. By the end of the year, there were 3,149 volumes in the collection, and circulation that year increased to 36,800 items.

In 1911, the gift of nearby property and funds from the Carnegie Corporation of New York resulted in a larger library building at 216 N.E. Knott, just a block and a half from the previous site. The Library Association of Portland's annual report for 1912 noted, "On October 18, 1912, the Albina branch building was ready for service, a stucco building, Spanish renaissance in design; the interior gives broad floor spaces and is well adapted to the demands of that congested district." The book collection at that time included materials in German, French, Italian, Spanish, Modern Greek, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Swedish, Russian, Polish and Bohemian (Czech).

The library on Knott Street served the Albina area from 1912 until 1960; by then, its use had declined dramatically. The library closed in 1960. (The building currently houses Multnomah County Library's Title Wave Used Bookstore.)

In June 1967, a new Albina Library opened in a storefront building on the corner of N. Vancouver Avenue and N. Beech Street. After the first year, use began to decline and continued to do so for the next ten years. In 1977, the Library Association of Portland Board voted to move the library to a new location - the library's sixth home and current location - at N.E. 15th Avenue and N.E. Fremont Street. This building first opened as a library on October 4, 1977, with Mary Jamison-Tannehill serving as its first librarian. After more than 20 years at this location, it closed on January 10, 1999 for renovation and expansion, reopening on June 22, 1999.

Fact sheet

  • Area:3,000 square feet; after renovation, 3,500 square feet
  • Book capacity: 20,000 volumes
  • Renovation architects: Richard Brown Architects (exterior) Thomas Hacker and Associates P.C. (Interior)
  • Contractor: CSI Construction
  • Original opening (current location): October 4, 1977
  • First librarian (current location): Mary Jamison-Tannehill
  • Reopening date: June 22, 1999

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