History

Serving Columbia City since 1909

On June 22, 1909, The Seattle Public Library opened a small branch library in the main room of Columbia City Hall. The Board of Public Works provided the room rent-free. The restroom was in the furniture store across the unpaved street, over the double tracks of the railroad.

In 1911, philanthropist Andrew Carnegie gave the Library $70,000 to build two branch libraries. In 1912, a site was chosen for the Columbia Branch and was purchased with $2,500 in money collected by community members and $2,000 from the city. The Columbia Branch opened Dec. 30, 1915.

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Architecture

An expanded Carnegie Library

Exterior view at the Columbia Branch
Exterior view at the Columbia Branch

The newly expanded Columbia Branch is the 12th project completed under the "Libraries for All" building program.

The expansion was designed by Cardwell Architects and built by Graham Contracting Ltd. The addition, which was built onto the back of the existing branch, was designed to respect the architecture of the original building.

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Art

Photographs by Gu Xiong

Artwork by Gu Xiong at the Columbia Branch
Artwork by Gu Xiong at the Columbia Branch

Photographs of neighborhood residents are part of the artwork. The 42 photographs -- taken by Vancouver, B.C., artist Gu Xiong -- are accompanied by messages written in English and the residents' native languages that evoke a sense of joy and belonging.

Forty of the photographs and accompanying messages are installed in large displays on top of the bookshelves. Another two are mounted on a wall.

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