In 1897, eight young women formed a club that evolved into the Thursday Study Club. One of their early goals was to establish a reading room, or library, for Gadsden. In 1900, after several fund raising schemes, they opened a public reading room above a store in the Moragne building downtown.
In 1905, the Carnegie Foundation awarded a grant of $10,000 to the City of Gadsden to build a library.
When the new building on Forrest Avenue opened in 1906, 456 volumes from the Thursday Study Club reading room formed the nucleus of the library’s collection. Lena Martin, a charter member of the club, was the first librarian and, for 49 years, nurtured the library through a depression and two world wars. Although the library moved to a new building and location in 1964, some believe that her spirit still inhabits the library.
In the past 100 years the Gadsden Public Library has seen the arrival of the telephone, desegregation, scores of award winning authors, been the site of protests and moved into the digital age. What started as a small reading room by a group of young ladies has become a 40,000 square foot state of the art building that has always been a gathering place for special programs and famous people. Celebrities, ghosts, and Civil Rights demonstrations – we’ve seen it all!
Through the Children’s department and Teen Zone programs, new generations of readers continue to grow and influence the library. The library is more than just books, it’s about people. Come be a part of the library’s history!
Don’t have a library card yet?
All you need is proof of Etowah County residence, a state issued ID and an application form: GPL applications (You can print the form and bring it along with proof of Etowah County residence and a state issued ID to any of the Gadsden Public Library’s branches to get your card.)