Ramsey County History magazine offers a wide variety of articles on the people, places and history of Ramsey County.
Volume 18, Number 1: 1982
The St. Paul Public Library and Its First 100 Years
Author: Gary Phelps
The history of the city library system from its origins into 1982 is discussed. The library movement began with the German Reading Association in 1854, the Mercantile Library Association in 1857, and the YMCA. The city took over in 1882 and faced years of struggle to build collections and clientele and finding suitable space. The crucial years were 1913–1917. The Market House fire destroyed the central library and most of the collection in that period; the new downtown library opened; Andrew Carnegie sponsored the building of the first three branch libraries; and collections and patronage boomed. Then followed stagnation in the 1920s, decline during the Great Depression, a brief revival cut short by World War II, expansion in the postwar era, and stagnation again in the 1950s with the coming of television. Twenty years of decentralization, expansion, and modernization followed.
PDF of Phelps article