Renton library celebrates 100th birthday this weekend

The Downtown Library. - File Photo.
The Downtown Library.
— image credit: File Photo.

The Renton Library will host its centennial celebration, Saturday, May 3.

It is the 100th anniversary of the original Renton Library.

The event is Saturday and Sunday, with music from Covington Grass Band scheduled from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

There will be displays, photos and memorabilia to explore.

“There’s actually a lot of books about Renton,” said Laurie Finlayson, Highlands reference librarian. “We have all the books pulled on Renton in the front bookcase.”

In conjunction with the displays, there will be a Friends of the Library Book Sale going on both days.

Library service began in Renton in 1903, with the Renton Miner’s Association, according to library staff. There was a small lending library in a room located on the second floor of Brendel’s Drug Store at Third and Wells Avenues.

It was actually a student who campaigned for a Renton Library, according to a library press release.

Neva Bostwick moved, with her family, to the Earlington area in 1913. When she saw there was no library, she found a way to get one through a Carnegie Foundation grant. Ignazio Sartori and his wife Jennie donated three lots in what is now Liberty Park, providing a location and allowing approval of the $10,000 grant.

The grand opening for Renton’s first dedicated library was June 11, 1914. Built to hold 8,000 books, the library’s first collection was mostly discards from Seattle or donations from individuals. By the 1930s, the building was overflowing with more than 68,000 books.

In 1964, residents passed a $150,000 bond to build a new, 20,000-square-foot library, to be located over the Cedar River. In 1987, that building went through an extensive renovation, including enclosing the outdoor reading balcony and removing some of the art-deco squares from the facade.

In 2010, voters in Renton by a narrow margin approved annexation into the King County Library System. Voters in 2012 by a large margin voted to build a new library at the current location over the river.

This weekend, there will be walk-through displays on the history of the library, including scrapbooks.

For more information, call Renton’s Highlands Library at 425-266-6043.


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