Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Old Provo Library

When I think of historical buildings in Provo, one that immediately comes to mind is the Brigham Young Academy, which currently serves as Provo's library.  The Academy has only been used as the city library since 2001.  So where was Provo's library located before 2001?

According to Wikipedia, the "Provo City Library was founded in 1905.  It first opened in the basement of the Provo City courthouse in October of that year and operated until 1908.  During its operation in the courthouse, it acquired 1,423 books donated by individuals in the community.  Soon after that, the collection doubled to 3000 volumes by April 1908.  On December 1, 1908, the library moved into a new building provided by a grant of $17,500 from Andrew Carnegie.  Over the years, the library grew in size, by obtaining approximately 65,000 volumes and 125 periodical subscriptions.

"In 1989, the library moved to another location, the City Center Building.  Although it was bigger than before, it became inadequate within a couple of years.

"In February 1997, a $16 million library bond passed which allowed the library to move to a bigger location.  The bond helped preserve and renovate the historical Brigham Young Academy building.  On July 9, 1999, city officials broke ground to initiate renovations for the new library, and then on September 8 2001 the library began full operations."

The Carnegie Library that was built in 1908 was located at the Northwest corner of 100 East and Center Street.  This building was enlarged and modernized in 1939, which is why it currently has an art deco type look as compared to its original look.  The City Center building that the library moved to in 1989 was located at 425 W Center Street, the current location of the Covey Center.  Below are a couple of pictures of the Carnegie library from 1908 and what it looks like today:

Andrew Carnegie changed the library system across the United States by donating millions towards the construction of 2,509 libraries.  Twenty-three such libraries were built in Utah including the Springville Library which I previously did a post about.  If you would like to read more about Carnegie Libraries, check out this Wikipedia article.

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