Houston Public Library

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For the library in Minnesota, see Houston Public Library (Minnesota).
For the library in Canada, see Houston, British Columbia.
Jesse H. Jones Building

Houston Public Library is the public library system serving Houston, Texas, United States.


It can trace its founding to the Houston Lyceum in 1854. After a large contribution from Andrew Carnegie it was chartered as the Houston Lyceum and Carnegie Library.[1][page needed]

Houston's first public library facility opened on March 2, 1904.[2] Julia Ideson was named its first librarian. The building constructed as Houston's Central Library in 1926 was later named in her honor. The name was changed to Houston Public Library in 1921.[1][page needed] The library system now consists of 35 neighborhood libraries, including four regional libraries; the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research, located in the Museum District; and the Central Library, located Downtown. Central Library, often incorrectly called the "Downtown Library", consists of the Julia Ideson Building and the Jesse H. Jones Building (1976). The Jones Building was designed by Seth Irvin Morris.[3] The Jones Building closed for renovations on Monday April 3, 2006.[4] It reopened May 31, 2008.[5] In 2008 the Houston Press ranked it as the "Best Renovation".[6]

The HPL administrative offices were moved out of the Jones building, freeing 12,600 square feet (1,170 m2) of space. Lisa Gray said that the renovation made the Jones Building "less of a public space devoted to reading, and more of a public space, period."[7] The administrative offices moved to the Marston Building.[4] In 2012 the Marston Building was sold by the City of Houston and the HPL administrative office moved to the recently restored Julia Ideson Building while other staff offices moved back to the Jones Building.[citation needed]

Additions in the 2000s include McGovern-Stella Link Neighborhood Library (2005), HPL Express Southwest (2008),[8] and HPL Express Discovery Green (2008).[9] A new building for Looscan Neighborhood Library opened in 2007, replacing a 1956 structure.[10]

In 2010, due to a budget shortfall, the library system reduced its hours.[11] During the same year the system put its decades-old city directories online.[12]

Clayton House is one of the top Genealogy Research Libraries in the United States



During the Jones Building remodeling the HPL administrative offices moved to the 22,000-square-foot (2,000 m2) Marston Building in Neartown Houston.[4][13][14] The City of Houston spent $1.3 million to renovate the Marston Building to accommodate HPL staff. Prior to the remodeling, the HPL administrative offices were located in the Jones Building.[15] In 2012 HPL administrative offices moved to the Julia Ideson Building after its historically correct renovation and the addition of a wing which was in the original design, but was not built at the time due to lack of funds. This addition houses the Houston Metropolitan Research Center (HMRC) which is the archival center of the Houston Public Library System. The Marston Building was sold in 2012 by the City of Houston.

Neighborhood libraries[edit]

Freed-Montrose Neighborhood Library
Heights Neighborhood Library
Looscan Neighborhood Library in River Oaks
Jungman Neighborhood Library
McGovern-Stella Link Neighborhood Library, located in the Braeswood Place neighborhood

In addition to the Central Library and Clayton Library, there are 35 neighborhood libraries, including four regional libraries, all located within the city of Houston.[16]

  • Beulah Shepard-Acres Homes Neighborhood Library (Acres Homes)
  • J. S. Bracewell Neighborhood Library
  • Carnegie Neighborhood Library
  • Everett Collier Regional Library
  • Amanda E. Dixon Neighborhood Library
    • In 2001 HPL officials proposed downsizing Dixon.[17]
  • Fifth Ward Neighborhood Library (Fifth Ward)
  • Patricio Flores Neighborhood Library (Second Ward)
  • Eleanor K. Freed-Montrose Neighborhood Library (Neartown)
  • Heights Neighborhood Library (Houston Heights)
  • David M. Henington-Alief Regional Library (Alief)
  • Arnold L. Hillendahl Neighborhood Library (Spring Branch)
  • W. L. D. Johnson Neighborhood Library (Sunnyside)
  • J. Frank Jungman Neighborhood Library (Uptown)
  • Belle Sherman Kendall Neighborhood Library (Memorial)
  • Lakewood Neighborhood Library
  • Adele Briscoe Looscan Neighborhood Library (River Oaks)
  • Frank O. Mancuso Neighborhood Library
  • Eva Alice McCrane-Kashmere Gardens Neighborhood Library (Kashmere Gardens)
  • John P. McGovern-Stella Link Regional Library (Braeswood Place)
  • Lucile Y. Melcher Neighborhood Library
  • George B. Meyer Neighborhood Library (Meyerland/Westbury)
  • Nettie Moody Neighborhood Library
  • Oak Forest Neighborhood Library (Oak Forest)
  • Park Place Regional Library (Park Place)
  • Pleasantville Neighborhood Library (Pleasantville)
  • Elizabeth L. Ring Neighborhood Library (Spring Branch)
  • Judson W. Robinson-Westchase Neighborhood Library (Westchase)
  • Scenic Woods Regional Library (Scenic Woods)
  • Lonnie E. Smith Neighborhood Library (Third Ward)
  • Nena Stanaker Neighborhood Library
  • Sherman E. Stimley-Blue Ridge Neighborhood Library (Blue Ridge)
  • Cliff Tuttle Neighborhood Library (Denver Harbor)
  • William A. Vinson Neighborhood Library
  • M. E. Walter Neighborhood Library (Sharpstown)
  • Alice McKean Young Neighborhood Library (Palm Center, near South Park)

Special libraries[edit]

  • African American Library at the Gregory School[18]
  • Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research
  • Houston Metropolitan Research Center

Former locations[edit]

  • Colored Carnegie Library (Opened 1912, became HPL branch in 1921, officially closed on July 31, 1961, demolished 1962 and replaced with an extension of Clay Avenue)

Partnership libraries[edit]

In addition, HPL has a partnership with the Harris County Public Library's Clear Lake City-County Freeman Branch Library in the Clear Lake City community of Houston.

Also, the Parent Resource Library in the Children's Museum of Houston is considered part of the Houston Public Library system; however, its staff are employed by the museum, rather than the City of Houston.

In partnership with the Harris County Public Library, which will operate the branch, the Kingwood Branch in Kingwood is a "City-County" branch in exchange for 4.2 million dollars to fund the building of a new 30,000-square-foot (2,800 m2) facility. At the time of its completion, the existing branch will be converted into a community center.[19]

HPL Express locations[edit]

Southwest Multi-Service Center, which includes HPL Express Southwest

HPL Express locations are library facilities located within existing buildings.[20] Each express location contains three areas: one book center, one computer center, and one classroom facility.[21]

Express locations:

  • HPL Express Discovery Green
  • Morris Frank Library, an HPL Express Location (Fondren Southwest) - Located in a 12,000-square-foot (1,100 m2) section of the first floor of the Brays Oaks Towers.[22]
  • HPL Express Southwest (opened in fall 2007)[21]
  • HPL Express Vinson (opening fall 2009) - Located in a 42,000-square-foot (3,900 m2) facility in the South Post Oak Multi-Service Center, adjacent to the new Vinson Neighborhood Library ; the total library facility will be double the size of the original Vinson facility.[23]

HPL Mobile Express[edit]

HPL Mobile Express

The HPL Mobile Express is a mobile computer training laboratory.[24]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Chapman, Betty T. 100 Years—100 Stories: Houston Public Library 1904–2004 (Houston, 2004). ISBN 0-9753242-0-9.
  2. ^ Chapman, Betty T. "Story of public libraries took long time to write in Houston." Houston Business Journal. June 2, 2000. Retrieved on January 27, 2009.
  3. ^ "In Memory of Mr. Seth Irvin Morris" (Archive). Houston Public Library. August 2, 2006. Retrieved on January 27, 2009.
  4. ^ a b c "It's Worth the Wait Exciting New Renovation for the Central Library" (Archive). Houston Public Library. Thursday February 23, 2006. Retrieved on June 30, 2010.
  5. ^ "Central Library Grand Re-Opening Celebration May 31 & June1, 2008" (Archive). Houston Public Library. Retrieved on January 27, 2009.
  6. ^ "Best Renovation (2008) Downtown Library" (Archive). Houston Press. Retrieved on September 28, 2015.
  7. ^ Gray, Lisa. "Beyond books." Houston Chronicle. June 20, 2008. Retrieved on March 11, 2010.
  8. ^ "HPL Express Southwest Grand Opening." Houston Public Library. January 1, 2008. Retrieved on December 13, 2008.
  9. ^ "Take to the air for short trips from Tucson." Arizona Daily Star. June 19, 2008. Retrieved on January 27, 2009.
  10. ^ "Adele B. Looscan Branch Replacement," (Archive) Houston Public Library. Retrieved May 23, 2008.
  11. ^ Turner, Allan. "Budget forcing cuts in library hours." Houston Chronicle. April 7, 2010. Retrieved on April 7, 2010.
  12. ^ Gonzalez, J.R. "Houston Public Library puts decades-old directories online." Houston Chronicle. April 13, 2010. Retrieved on May 11, 2010.
  13. ^ Map of Neartown. Neartown Association. Retrieved October 20, 2008.
  14. ^ "GSD District Locations." City of Houston. Retrieved on June 30, 2010. "No. 117. Location Code MAR. Address 820 Marston. Location Name Marston Building. Zip Code 77019. Key Map 492M. Sq. Ft 22,000.
  15. ^ "City of Houston Public Library, Marston Building." Prozign Architects. Retrieved on June 30, 2010.
  16. ^ Houston Public Library - Named Buildings
  17. ^ Stanton, Robert. "North Houston residents want to keep library open." Houston Chronicle. March 14, 2001. Retrieved on July 16, 2013.
  18. ^ "The African American Library at the Gregory School." Houston Public Library. Retrieved on November 23, 2009.
  19. ^ Williamson, Harry (2007-02-15). "Kingwood library construction work to start this year". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  20. ^ "HPL Express." Houston Public Library. Accessed July 12, 2008.
  21. ^ a b "Electronic library to be built within new Multi-Service Center / City's first branch to have abundance of CDs, DVDs." Houston Chronicle. March 1, 2007. Accessed July 12, 2008.
  22. ^ "SOUTHWEST HOUSTON / Frank library to move, reopen in the fall."Houston Chronicle. June 19, 2008. Accessed July 12, 2008.
  23. ^ "HIRAM CLARKE / Multiservice center, library set / City officials hope $10 million facility will earn LEED designation." Houston Chronicle. November 29, 2007. Accessed July 12, 2008.
  24. ^ "HPL Mobile Express." Houston Public Library. Accessed July 12, 2008.

External links[edit]