About Us

Dreams Begin Here

Serving more than 1.5 million people a year, Arlington Public Library holds more than 600,000 items, from books, audiobooks, eBooks, and DVDs, to digital photo collections, genealogy resources, and grant funded kits for parents and teachers. In the always expanding digital realm, we provide people with powerful online resources. Online visitors can browse our collections, download eBooks, and view more than 100 digital resources through Metroplex Online Resources, or MOReLibrary, a partnership with the cities of Grand Prairie, Kennedale, and Mansfield.

Our Vision

To be our community’s best and most sought after resource for information, learning, and discovery.

Our Mission

To open doors to a world of ideas, information, and imagination, thereby enhancing the economic, social, and cultural vitality of our diverse community.

To guide our work with each other and with the community, we value:

  • Responsive customer service
  • Learning opportunities for all ages
  • Our community’s diversity
  • Welcoming physical and virtual environments
  • Teamwork and community partnership
  • Introducing children and adults to the joys and rewards of reading
  • Customer confidentiality
  • Technology that enhances our vision
  • Bringing library resources into the community
  • Integrity and accountability

Our Staff

Our library system is structured into three divisions: Operations & Facility Management, Program Management & Community Engagement, and Cataloging & Technology.

Our neighborhood libraries, as well as our soon to be built new Downtown Library, are being transformed into vital community hubs that provide much more than free books and materials. We play a key role in bridging the digital divide with our TechLiNK, teen centers, partnerships with schools, and literacy initiatives for children and adults. Altogether, the library offers people a chance to learn and grow with programs for all ages.

Our Strategic Plan

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The next three years will be vital ones for the Arlington Public Library and this strategic plan outlines the important work needed to get ready for a new era of library service in our city. You can also view our previous strategic plan.

Our Policies

History of Arlington Public Library

Early Years

The First Library in Arlington, Texas

In 1923, Miss Pearl Wade, librarian, earned a salary of $12 per month for managing a collection of 500 books. These were stashed in wooden crates in a corner of the Farmer’s National Bank in downtown Arlington. Citizens who wished to be well read could visit Miss Wade on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons. These were the first library services for the growing city of Arlington, and were actually provided by the Tarrant County Free Library.

A view of downtown Arlington, Texas c. 1880

A view of downtown Arlington, Texas c. 1880
Photo: Arlington Public Library Historic Photo Collection

Early Expansion

The library expanded along with the city and had many temporary homes in the early years. In 1923, the first official Arlington Public Library moved to the second floor of the Graber Building downtown, which later became a theater. Those who grew up here may remember climbing the stairs to a room over the Texan Theater, or maneuvering through the stacks of books filling two rooms and spilling into the hall at the original Arlington City Hall building. Perhaps Mrs. Sam Owens or Miss Mattie Mae McAskill introduced you to Black Beauty or Tom Sawyer. In the 1950s, you may have checked out books from Mrs. Tom (Irene) Lee at the historic Cooper House in Meadowbrook Park,donated by Horace Cooper to the city for use as a library.

This building was outgrown in the fifties, and the city purchased the First National Bank building downtown and renovated it to house the library and public meeting rooms. At this time, the library became a department of the City of Arlington, with salaries and materials coming out of the general operating budget. The new facility featured a drive-through book drop and a wondrously high-tech innovation, the duplicating machine. Mrs. S. E. McClain was librarian until 1965, when she was succeeded by Jack A. Corliss as library director.

Library Construction

In the 1970s, the first bond election to benefit the library system allowed for the construction of a large downtown facility and three branches. The Central Library, completed in 1973, offered what was then a state-of-the-art card catalog and microfilm readers, and was decorated in stylish hues of orange, harvest gold, and avocado green. The Southeast (later called East Arlington Branch), North at the intersection of Cooper and Randol Mill Road (closed in 1996), and Southwest (later called Woodland West Branch) branches all opened in the early seventies. The foundation was laid for major citywide expansion.

Branches and Expansions

The Arlington Public Library System has grown rapidly over the past 25 years:

1986: A new Southwest Branch Library was opened at 4000 W. Green Oaks Blvd. and the existing Southwest Branch was renamed the Woodland West Branch Library.

1991:The Friends of the Library and the Library Advisory Board launched efforts for passage of a new bond program. In 1993, a bond issue for $9.6 million passed, providing funds for collection development and renovation of existing buildings as well as for the construction of new buildings.

1993: The Library System moved from a physical card catalog to a computerized catalog. This same year, the Arlington Public Library Foundation was established with a mission to financially support the Library System.

1994: The Central Library was renamed the George W. Hawkes Central Library, honoring the long-time editor and publisher of the Citizen-Journal. This was followed by a system-wide expansion of the branch libraries.

1996: The Woodland West Branch was relocated to 2837 West Park Row Dr.

1997: The Northeast Branch Library opened.

1998: The Southwest Branch Library (now Lake Arlington Branch) expansion was completed.

2000: The expansion was completed at the East Arlington Branch Library.

2003: The Southwest Branch Library was renamed the Lake Arlington Branch Library.

2003: The Southeast Branch Library opened at 900 SE Green Oaks Blvd.

2007: The Southwest Branch Library opened at 3311 SW Green Oaks Blvd. Interestingly, this is our third branch to be called “Southwest,” mirroring Arlington’s tremendous growth through the years and Library System’s commitment to grow along with the city we serve.

The Collection

In FY1953-54, $500 was appropriated in the City budget for library books. In FY09, the amount allocated to build and maintain the collection was $897,999.

It is interesting to consider that a library collection is a dynamic, living thing, not just books and movies that will stay the same forever. A collection changes over the years. For example, items are lost and stolen, the library weeds damaged materials, and the library adds new materials based on the public’s interest and trends in the publishing world.

The Current Collection

The current library materials collection is 623,767 items. There are 1.69 items per capita and 40% of Arlington residents have a library card. In FY 2009, patrons checked out materials 2,125,974 times and 1,597,548 people visited a library in Arlington.

Automation and Technology

The library first automated its circulation and card catalogs in 1994. Additional technology was added to allow patrons to check their personal accounts and place reserves remotely by Telnet. Additional service enhancements included telephone notification of reserves and overdue materials. Telephone renewals of materials were added in June 1999. In September 2000, the Library upgraded to a graphical web-based automated system. This system allows patrons to access their personal accounts through the Internet from their home or from within the libraries. It also allows direct access to the library’s subscription databases.

Internet Access

The Arlington Public Libraries first began offering public access to the Internet in 1996, with the installation of two text-only Internet computers at the Central Library. Through a combination of grant and City funding, all public library buildings had graphical Internet access by March 1997. Since that time, the number of computers has been expanded in order to keep up with demand. In addition, the library offers free computer training on a variety of topics at East Arlington Branch’s Family Learning Lab.

The Future

There are many improvements and changes happening in the Arlington Public Library System as we continue in our mission to be our community’s best and most sought after resource for information, learning, and discovery, in the past, present, and the future.