Library History

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  • Photo Credit: Nick Frey

In 1906, a public-spirited Salinas Civic Club resolved to build a public library building for Salinas. With tireless effort and the help of Salinas residents, these ladies raised the necessary funds to purchase a lot and secure $10,000 from Andrew Carnegie for a building. Before long, the Odd Fellows of Salinas added the books from their library to those from the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union Reading Room. The I.O.O.F. then hired Carrie Miller Striening to classify them.

On November 4, 1909, Mrs. Striening proudly opened the doors to the new Salinas Public Library Carnegie building. Before the close of century, the system built another main library and two smaller ones; formed an internationally known Steinbeck Collection; organized a volunteer-run homebound service; built one of the most successful literacy programs in the state; started a Chicano Resource Center; and in general served the population of a rapidly growing city.

Ironically, the beginning of twenty-first century almost brought an end to the public library in Salinas when a serious budget crisis prompted the city council to plan closure of the entire system early in 2005. Once again the people, businesses, and organizations of Salinas and beyond came forward to affirm the value of their public library. In about three months, the Rally Salinas! campaign raised enough money to keep the system open 33 hours a week for one year. Then on November 8, 2005, the citizens of Salinas voted a sales tax to keep the library and other city services funded for the next ten years.

SALINAS PUBLIC LIBRARY SYSTEM HIGHLIGHTS

Material in the Local History Collection at the John Steinbeck Library was used to prepare this history.