Glendale Public Library System has a main library and two branches, Foothills and Velma Teague. It is the oldest library in the Phoenix metro area, serving residents since 1895. The mission of Glendale Public Library, a service-oriented organization, is to provide free and equal access, without prejudice and discrimination, to each man, woman and child in the community. Residents receive courteous and professional services that will:
• Make available the materials, programs and services needed to meet their recreational needs
• Provide the informational services needed to answer their questions
• Assist everyone to continue to grow and learn throughout their lives
• Enable people to gain a better understanding of their own cultural heritage and the cultural
heritage of others
• Offer space for community interaction
Glendale Public Library’s history:
The library was founded by V.E. Messinger, who came to Glendale from California in 1895 and brought his collection of 400 books. A member of the first graduating class of Stanford University, Messinger made his books available to whoever wanted to borrow them. Two years later a small building was erected at the north end of the Ryder Lumber and Hardware Company, where he was manager, to house the books. The collection grew as other people donated books.
The Ryder Company moved to what is now the corner of 58th Dr. and Glendale Ave. Messinger moved the library to the second floor of the building and became a part-time volunteer librarian.
Around the same time, the Glendale Livestock Association liquidated its holdings and ended up with about $1,000 in surplus funds. With the help of the association president, H.W. Adams, the money was donated to the library to purchase books. On January 1, 1898, the Glendale Public Library Association was organized with Adams as president and Messinger as treasurer. Local citizens bought shares for $5 to help the association grow. The library was moved several times, but in 1917 Mary Catlin Hansen donated funds for a small building to be built in Murphy Park. This small building with the pagoda-like roof was known as the “flagpole library” since it was build around the city’s flagpole. This building was home to the library until 1938.
In 1922 the library officially became a department of the City of Glendale and was appropriated $500 for support.
In 1937 a $6,000 bond issue and a Public Works Administration grant from the government enabled the city to construct a $12,000 library building in 1938. The 2,200 sq. ft. building would serve a population of 3,500. The Spanish-style mission library was located in the center of Murphy Park. It was built in the form of a “T”, with an arched entrance in the center which led to the reading rooms. It was considered one of the most attractive buildings in the city.
On June 1, 9135, Mrs. Velma Teague was hired as head librarian and served until her death in 1969. She recognized the need for excellent books to stimulate young and old minds. She dreamed that a larger library would one day replace the smaller one in Murphy Park. Preliminary plans were approved for a larger library in 1967. Mrs. Teague died in 1969 before the new 15,000 sq. ft. library was finished, but she knew that the new library would be named for her. The Velma Teague Library opened in September 1971.
As the city continued to grow, it became apparent that a much larger library was needed. Under the directorship of Rodeane Widom, a new 65,000 sq. ft. main library opened in July 1987 next door to Sahuaro Ranch Park. The downtown library remained open as a branch.
In July 1998, the Foothills Branch Library opened. This 33,500 sq. ft. branch library is the first library in Arizona to offer the convenience of a drive up window.
Rodeane Widom retired in July 2007 and longtime staff member Sue Komernicky became the current library director.
ContactGlendale Public Library
5959 Brown St.
Glendale, AZ 85302
Rights & Reproduction
Please contact Glendale Public Library for specific information concerning rights and reproduction.