Riverside Public Library

Library History

  • August 16, 1901

    Andrew Carnegie Grant

    Andrew Carnegie grants Riverside $20,000 for a library building.

  • 1902

    Construction Begins

    Construction begins on the Main library at the northeast corner of Seventh and Orange Streets. The Mission Revival building is the work of the architectural firm of Burham and Blieser of Los Angeles; the general contractor is J. W. Carroll of Riverside.

  • July 31, 1903

    Opens to the Public

    The Carnegie Library opens to the public. It has a capacity of 20,000 volumes.

    Riverside Carnegie Library

  • Mid 1909

    Addition Completed

    An addition to the back of the Carnegie Library is completed. Partially funded by another Carnegie Grant, the $15,000 project creates a children's room for the first time.

  • March 7, 1912

    Library Service School

    The Riverside Library Service School is formally established.

  • July 1912

    First Trust Fund

    Ethan Allan Chase creates the Library's first trust fund.

  • June 30, 1917

    Voters Defeat Bond

    Riverside voters defeat a $40,000 bond issue and cause the loss of matching funds from the Carnegie Foundation to expand the Library and the Library Service School Facilities.

  • January 1920

    Foundation Settles

    The foundation of the Carnegie Library settles, shattering the west wall and southwest corner of the building.

  • November 1920

    Allatt & Humphrey Houses

    The City Council agrees to raise the $30,000 to purchase the Allatt and Humphrey houses to the east of the Library in return for $25,000 from the Carnegie Library Foundation to repair and expand the Carnegie Building.

  • February 25, 1922

    New Reference Wing

    The new "Reference Wing," designed by Riverside architect G. Stanley Wilson, is opened to the public. The Carnegie Library now has a 100,000 volume capacity.

  • Summer 1922

    Great Depression Era

    The Library Service School occupies the remodeled Allatt House. After remodeling, the Humphrey House becomes a children's library and is designed as the "Junior Branch." The Library loses half of its City funding due to the Great Depression.

  • May 15, 1942

    Library Ships Rare Books

    Fearing bombing or invasion, the Library ships its rarest books, local history materials, and archives to the University of Colorado at Boulder for storage.

  • August 14, 1943

    School Closes

    The Library Service School closes and the County Free Library offices move into the Allatt House.

  • 1947

    Government Publications

    The Library becomes a depository for California and Federal government publications.

  • October 17, 1961

    Voters Approve Bond

    69% of Riverside voters approve a $1.7 million bond issue to construct a new Main library building after defeating the same proposal 6 months earlier.

  • April 1, 1963

    Parking Lots Controversy

    The site for the new library is approved by the City Council after 18 months of controversy over the location and size of parking lots around the building.

  • June 25, 1963

    New Main Library

    A groundbreaking ceremony is held for the new Main library.

  • November - December 1964

    Open to the Public

    The Carnegie Library and the Allatt and Humphrey Houses are demolished; the new Main library is occupied and opened to the public.

  • March 21, 1965

    New Library Dedicated

    Riverside's new Main library is dedicated. The 61,420 square-foot structure designed by the Riverside architectural firm of Moise, Harbach and Hewlett has a 300,000 volume capacity and seating for 550 patrons.

    Adapted from "Serving through Partnership" by Ronald J. Baker