Renamed for Northside Activist
Ellington (formerly Empire) Library was the brain-child of Northside Neighborhood Ass'n founder and continuing board member, Joyce Ellington. In 1974, the school district proposed to sell its current site. Local residents did not want the land sold to a housing developer. "We talked about making it into a park, and I guess I'm the one who suggested a library be built there," recalls Ellington, a former chair of the City's Library Commission. "We in the [Northside] wanted a library closer than the Carnegie [at North 23rd and East Santa Clara streets] for our children," Ellington said. "Every other neighborhood had a branch library, and we were the oldest neighborhood association in the city."
The late Florence Menteer, another NNA founder, said at the time: "We wanted it for our dreams, our library. We felt the library was important to our rebirth, that the neighborhood would die without it. Housing and other things are important, but a library is very special."
Parks and other sites in the area had been considered for a library, but Northsiders kept returning to the site where Ellington Library was ultimately erected, the longtime site of the old Grant School, which had been in the neighborhood for a century before being moved to a block north to its current location on Jackson St. "That old site was special to us," Menteer said.
When it opened in 1977, the library had a collection of 25,000 books. The building
is the same size today, but holds 44,000 books. Projections for the year 2020 are
that it will need to hold 69,000 volumes in a restricted service area after reconfiguring
the library district boundaries. Joyce Ellington Branch Library is scheduled to be
rebuilt on its current site in 2007.
An artist's rendition of the new library to begin construction in late summer or early fall.
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