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Tulsa and Oklahoma History in the Research Center: Library History


1905:  Mrs. J. D. Seaman writes to Carnegie but receives no reply.

1910:  Carnegie pledges $35,000 for a Tulsa library if the city will provide a site and assume maintenance costs.

1911:  Bond issue for library site fails.

1912:  The Tuesday Book Club establishes a committee to push for a public library. The committee convinces the City Commission to issue $7,000 in bonds to buy a library site and to pledge $100 a month for maintenance.

1913:  Mrs. Alma R. McGlenn, Tulsa's first librarian, greets guests at the Library's opening in the County Courthouse basement.

1914:  Library Trustees accept Carnegie gift of $55,000. City of Tulsa takes over the operation of the Library.

1916:  Formal opening of the Tulsa Public Library in the new building at Third Street and Cheyenne.

1928:  Book deposits placed in parks.

1929:  Red Fork opens.

1930:  The Library establishes the first bookmobile in Oklahoma.

1932:  Four branches funded by $75,000 from a 1930 bond issue are built: East, West, North, and Greenwood.

1939:  Miss McGlenn retires. James E. Gourley becomes head librarian.

1951:  Red Fork opens in new building. Brookside opens first storefront library. W. G. Skelly donates two book trailers.

1954:  Sheridan Village opens. Florence Park opens in new building, expanding service begun with trailer in 1951.

1955:  East, West, North, and Greenwood remodeled and repaired. Service is expanded to all Tulsa County.

1957:  Friends of the Public Library is organized and formed.

1960:  City and County sign a pact for library service. Metropolitan Library Board is formed.

1961:  Tulsa City-County Library Commission is organized. A $3.8 million bond issue passes with a $1.9 mill levy for Library operation.

Broken Arrow

1906:  Broken Arrow Library opens as a project of the Self Culture Club.

1929:  Broken Arrow Library is transferred to the City of Broken Arrow.


1900:  Collinsville Library begins with donation of books from Mrs. A. J. Tyner.

1913:  Collinsville Library opens in City Hall and is operated by members of C.O.E. Club.

1917:  Carnegie Library opens at 1223 North Main Street.


1940:  Library opens with WPA funds.

1953:  City of Skiatook takes over operation with six hours service per week. 

Sand Springs

1921:  Library organized by Women's Club opens in City Hall after unsuccessful attempt to secure Carnegie funds. 

1929:  Mrs. Charles Page, widow of Sand Springs founder, donates Page Memorial Library and an annuity for upkeep. 

1940:  Library opens with WPA funds.

1953:  City of Skiatook takes over operation with six hours per week service.

Tulsa City-County Library System

1962:  TCCL system begins operation. Brookside, Sheridan, and Skiatook move to large quarters. North Harvard, Jenks, and Owasso open. Florence Park is renovated and expanded. James Gourley resigns.

1963:  Allie Beth Martin becomes director. Red Fork, Collinsville, Page Memorial, East Second, Greenwood, and West Tulsa remodeled. Prattville and Bixby open. Tulsa County Historical Society forms and requests space in the new Central Library. TCCL becomes partial depository for federal documents. Suburban Acres, Nathan Hale, and Broken Arrow open, all built from bond funds. North Branch closes and is replaced by Apache Circle. Construction of new Central Library begins.

1964:  North Harvard moves to larger quarters. Woodland View opens.

1965:  New Central Library opens. Central Library auditorium is named after Alfred E. Aaronson. New services are provided including Special Services to the Blind and a Fine Arts Center.

1966:  Brookside moves to larger quarters.

1967:  Greenwood and Apache Circle close and are replaced by Seminole Hills. "Books Sandwiched In" begins.

1968:  Regional library system is instituted.

1971:  Special services area formed to include service to shut-ins, nursing home residents, differently-abled individuals, and inmates of the county jail.

1972:  Owasso Library is moved to larger quarters. Tulsa Library Trust is created.

1974:  New cable television opens. Land at 26th and Garnett is purchased for the East Regional Library. Senior Citizen Information and Referral Service begins. Adult literacy program is established.

1975:  New Jenks Library opens. Property at 71st and Memorial is obtained from Dayton-Hudson for future building. Fine Arts moves to a new area and is renamed Media Center. INFO II paid research service begins.

1976:  Seminole Hills Branch closes, and North Regional Library opens. New Prattville branch opens, and the trailer is sold. New Allie Beth Martin East Regional Library opens. Skiatook moves to new larger quarters. Sperry branch opens. Allie Beth Martin dies. Pat Woodrum becomes director. Allie Beth Martin Scholarship Fund is established. Passage of State Question 507 raises allowable mill levy ceiling for libraries to four mills.

1977:  Citizens Information Service begins for all ages. East Second Library is renovated. Library becomes depository for U.S. Foundation Center. Information and bus shelter on Civic Center Plaza opens.

1978:  Friends of the Public Library sponsers first Adult Creative Writing Contest. Collinsville Library is renovated. TCCL becomes depository for state documents. Voters approve one-mill increase for library funding, bringing support to three mills.

1979:  Tulsa Friends help form Friends of Libraries in Oklahoma. First annual library staff recognition event is held. Nine Friends groups support TCCL. Channel 24 loses its funding and closes. North Regional Library is renamed Freddie Martin Rudisill North Regional Library. Genealogy collection moves to Rudisill North Regional Library . Tulsa Area Library Cooperative is formed.

1980:  New library cards are issued to all library patrons in preparation for new computerized circulation system. Bixby Library and site are purchased.

1981:  TCCL goes online with the Automated Library Information Systems (ALIS). Skiatook moves to temporary quarters then to a new larger facility. Red Fork closes and West Regional Library opens. Central Library floors are renumbered.

1982:  Tulsa's first annual Storytelling Festival is sponsered. Library Hall of Fame is established. Woodland View, closes and South Regional Library opens. Tulsa Library Trust raises $1 million.

1985:  Young People's Annual Creative Writing Contest begins. Page Memorial Library undergoes multi-phase renovations. Glenpool opens in permanent bookmobile on shopping mall parking lot and later moves to leased storefront. First annual Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguised Author Award is presented to Norman Cousins. Bixby Library is enlarged.

1986:  Maxwell Park Library replaces Sheridan and North Harvard libraries. First annual Challenger 8 Run to Read benefits library. Larry McMurty receives Distinguished Author Award.

1987:  John Updike receives Helmerich Distinguished Author Award.

1988:  Tulsans pass $4.2 million bond issue and one-mill increase to support library efforts. Dial-up computer access to library catalog is installed. Toni Morrison receives Distinguished Author Award. Friends of the Tulsa Public Library receives Harwelden Award from the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa.

1989:  Career centers set up in regional libraries. Saul Bellow receives Helmerich Distinguised Author Award.

1990:  Books for Babies project is created with Tulsa County Reading Council. Library catalog available online.

1991:  New 91st Street branch library is dedicated as Peggy V. Helmerich Library. Walter H. Helmerich III endows the Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award to provide $20,000 prize to authors. Eudora Welty wins 1991 prize. Cental Library is renovated. Pratt and Hardesty libraries are renovated and enlarged.

Information in this chronology is from Tulsa City-County Library: 1912-1991.

Location Histories


Bixby Library

The first Bixby Library was housed in a leased 2,000 square foot building in downtown Bixby. The property owners, Fred and Dalda Moore, provided the library with a building specifically designed for the purpose and leased it until it was purchased by the library system along with the adjacent land, which would be used for future expansion. Read more...


Broken Arrow Library

The history of the Broken Arrow Public Library can be traced to a group of 17 young women, who in 1906 organized the Self Culture Club. This group stared out as a literary club and almost immediately became active in civic affairs. The club soon realized the need for a public library. The members organized a Tea, and interested individuals were asked to donate one or more books for the library’s collection.  Read more...

brookside library


Brookside Library

Brookside Library opened on January 19, 1951 in a rented storefront facility at 3516 S Peoria Avenue. It was Tulsa’s first branch library to be in the heart of a shopping center and “a colorful place designed to get the gloom out of library surroundings”. Mrs. Helen Norvell was the branch librarian, followed by Lucile Wallace. Read more...

Central Library

After several attempts to establish a library in Tulsa by women’s clubs beginning in 1905, a group of citizens finally persuaded Andrew Carnegie, in 1912, to provide $35,000 to build a library if the city would provide a suitable site and $3,500 per year to maintain it. Read more...

charles page memorial library

Charles Page Library

The first library in Sand Springs was started in 1920 by the Sand Springs Women's Club, and was opened April 1921 in the City Hall with 500 donated books. The city took it over and supported it for many years by appropriation of city funds. On February 27, 1930, the Page Memorial Library was dedicated as a gift of Mrs. Lucile Page in memory of her husband, Charles Page. Read more...

collinsville library

Collinsville Library

Collinsville Library plays a vital role in the history of what was once a little pioneer town in Indian Territory. In 1903 a group of women formed the Comedy of Errors Book Club. Their first order of business was to adopt the project of founding a library for Collinsville, Oklahoma. Their first books were donated from a Methodist Church organization and were kept in the home of Comedy of Errors Book club founder, Mrs. J.A. Tyner. Read more...

Glenpool Library

Library service to Glenpool began in 1962 with a bookmobile.  In 1985, the community requested full-time library service from the Tulsa City-County Library and a stationary bookmobile was located on the parking lot of the Glenoak Shopping Center. Read more...

hardesty library


Hardesty Regional Library

In 1964, The Woodland View Library opened in a strip center at 61 st & Lewis with Pat Woodrum as the Librarian. Ten years later she became the System’s Director. It was a popular branch from the very beginning, although it was small and had little room for programs. Pat Dorman became the Librarian in 1965, followed by Dusty Wade in 1967, Susie Herwig in 1970, Mary Ann Cozad in 1976, Lisa Plumly in 1977, and Rosemary Moran in 1982. Read more...



Herman and Kate Kaiser Library

The Herman and Kate Kaiser Library opened on June 23, 2008. Glenda Kilmer, branch manager, says, "we are so excited about the new building – we have an expanded collection, a meeting room that can be booked by community groups, and a wide range of programs and activities. Our customers are the best and we serve a diverse community." Read more...


jenks library


Jenks Library

Years ago, in the old City Hall, officials found a cupboard containing 30-40 old books. This was the closest Jenks had to a library until a 1961 city-county bond issue created a mandate for a Jenks Library. Under the leadership of Mrs. Allie Beth Martin, a 1,200 sq. ft. site was selected in the Odd Fellows Building on Main Street. Read more...


kishner library


Judy Z. Kishner Library

Initially library service in Sperry Community consisted of a weekly visit from the bookmobile. A group of twenty-four civic-minded ladies and Claude Miller, the spokesperson, formed the Sperry Friends of the Library Group in 1975. Their dream was a branch library for the Sperry community. Read more...




Kendall-Whittier Library

On a hot summer day in 1931, opening ceremonies were held for the largest of the four original library branches built in Tulsa. The East Second Library, located at 2537 E. Second St., stood on a lot donated by R.T. Daniel. It was a colonial revival red brick building with large windows and a vaulted ceiling. Virginia Allen Baird was the librarian in those early years. Read more...


martin library


Martin Regional Library

Two important events occurred in Tulsa in 1949. The first – the introduction of television – would have long-term national and international impact. Of more immediate significance to the Tulsa library was the arrival of Allie Beth Martin, an energetic woman who held a library science degree from Columbia University. She had worked in several library systems before moving to Tulsa with her husband Ralph, a physician, and their daughter Betsy. Read more...


maxwell parek


Maxwell Park Library

On the near north side of Tulsa, library services have been delivered from several locations. The original Sheridan Branch was located from the 1950’s in leased space on the 2nd floor of the Sheridan Village Shopping Center at Admiral and Sheridan. Jane Cansler was the Librarian. It later moved into a street-level space across the street at 62 N. Sheridan becoming the North Sheridan Branch Library. Read more...


nathan hale

Nathan Hale Library

Perched at the edge of a small neighborhood in midtown Tulsa at 23rd and Sheridan sits the Nathan Hale Library. F. Allen Whiteside designed the 4,882-square-foot library. When it opened in 1963, the Nathan Hale Library was the largest branch in the city. Read more...

Owasso Library

In 1961, a tax levy was voted by Tulsa County voters to build and re-furbish county libraries. Because Owasso was a fast growing city, the first new branch was built there and opened in 1963. The library was housed in a leased space of 1300 square feet at 124 West 1st Street. Read more...

Peggy V. Helmerich Library

The Peggy V. Helmerich Library opened to the public on February 10, 1991 as a 9,800 square foot facility, on a three acre lot, with capacity for 35,000 volumes. It was designed by Wallace and Bates Architects with a provision for future expansion. Read more...

pratt library

Pratt Library

"Sitting atop a gentle hill near the river in Sand Springs, the Harry Pratt Library looks as warm and inviting to customers as an old friend. Thick grass and a smattering of pine trees cover the acre lot. Inside, the library is bright, cheerful, full of materials...." Thus states a recent description of the present Pratt Library, but this was not always so. Read more...


rudisill library

Rudisill Regional Library

Library service in north Tulsa dates back to 1924 and the Greenwood Branch. In 1932 the North Boston Branch opened. It was replaced by the Apache Circle Branch in 1963. Both Apache Circle and Greenwood closed when Seminole Hills opened in 1967. Mrs. Freddie Rudisill was the librarian there. Read more...

florence park library

Schusterman-Benson Library

“Library of the Future Is Here Today” exclaimed the Tulsa Tribune when the Florence Park Library opened in January of 1955. The library was designed to resemble a Japanese tea garden, and architect Robert Buchner’s design for the building included Japanese lanterns hanging from the ceiling, a unique circular fireplace with pink glass inserts and mobiles, and blue glass walls in the reading room. Read more...

skiatook library

Skiatook Library

The Skiatook Library opened in 1940 with WPA funds. The City of Skiatook took over operation in 1953. The City-County System began management in July, 1962. It was housed in an old 1,500 sq. ft. storefront on the main street of town, at 110 East Rogers Blvd. Billie Shehi was librarian there until mid-1988, when she retired. A larger building, formerly a feed store at 228 E. Rogers, became available in 1976. It was remodeled to accommodate the library and a community meeting room. Read more...

south broken arrow library

South Broken Arrow Library

Because of the quick growth of the city of Broken Arrow Library to the south, it became obvious that a second branch library was needed by early 1990s. After a great deal of exploring, a site at 3600 S. Chestnut was an ideal location. Working with the City of Broken Arrow and the homeowners in the neighborhood, the Tulsa City-County Library successfully obtained the property in 1993. Bates/LZW, Architects, designed the 6,100 sq. ft. building and it opened in 1994. Theresa Fowler was appointed librarian. Read more...

suburban acres

Suburban Acres Library

As one of the most recognized buildings in the area, the Suburban Acres Library still remains a premier neighborhood attraction for its residents. With just 4,200 square feet to house its collection and a 99-year lease with Tulsa Public Schools, the Suburban Acres Library opened its doors in 1963. Read more...

zarrow library

Zarrow Regional Library

The City of Tulsa had a branch library in the Red Fork community, west of the River, at 2410 W. 41st St. beginning in 1929. It was a 2,480 sq. ft. building across the street from Clinton Jr. High School. Mae Swofford was Librarian there from 1951 to 1971, when she retired. Betty Kennedy then became the manager, and she remained until 1992. She saw the construction of the new West Regional Library at 2224 W. 51st, which was to take the place of Red Fork. Read more...


In 1930, the Library starts the first bookmobile service in Oklahoma.