West End
West End's Grand Opening 21 February 2007
West End library Through the Years
  • 1908-1909 Andrew Carnegie donated $10,000 for the design and construction of the West End Library when West End was a separate municipality from Birmingham.
  • 1912 The West End Library opened on April 1. When the town of West End was incorporated into the City of Birmingham, the West End Library became the third branch of the Birmingham Public Library.
  • 1960 To replace the aging Carnegie building, the City of Birmingham approved a bond issue for $109,000 and hired architects Turner and Batson to design a new library and contractor Brice Building Company to construct it.
  • 1962 On Sunday, December 9, the West End Library officially opened, complete with air-conditioning, 4,500 square feet of space, separate departments for adults and children, a meeting room for the public, a work room for the staff, and an office for the librarian.
  • 1997 The library replaced its original heating and air-conditioning system after 35 years of use.
  • 2003 The Birmingham City Council accepted a bid to build a new $1.7 million West End Library. In September the library broke ground two blocks away on a new site where the old Masonic Temple had been destroyed by fire a few years before.
  • 2007 The Birmingham-based architect Khalil Engineering and contractor Eighteen Oaks completed the new library with a meeting room large enough for 75 people, a conference room, a new parking lot, and a clock tower above the entrance.

In the first decade of the 20th century, the rapidly expanding City of Birmingham took in the West End community and the Birmingham Public Library adopted the West End Library into the developing library system. Following Avondale and Ensley, the West End Library became the third branch and the third Carnegie library in Jefferson County, Alabama. This early library thrived during its 53 years of service to the community. The brick structure typified the Carnegie style and featured rich architectural details, including a domed roof, Ionic columns at the entrance, a pediment with a sculpture in relief, and an intricate ornamental entablature.

In 1960 when the old 13th Street Carnegie building had deteriorated beyond repair, the City of Birmingham approved a bond issue to fund a new library on the same site. This library was rotated to face the broader and busier Tuscaloosa Avenue. It was larger, had all the modern amenities that the old building lacked, and could hold 22,500 books and other library materials to accommodate its annual circulation of 100,000.

In 2001 the Library Board and Administration chose an architect to design a new library to be built in the 1400 block of Tuscaloosa Avenue on the site of the old Masonic Temple. The temple, built in the 1920s and later added to the National Register of Historic Places, was destroyed in a fire in 1996 on New Year's Day. While planning the contemporary design of the new building, the architect and the library sought to preserve some of the on-site ruins from the historic Masonic structure. As a result of this effort, sections of the temple's Doric columns are incorporated into the lamp posts in the parking area and are also located in the historic plaza that commemorates the temple. Featured in the plaza are carved Masonic symbols that are remnants from the temple's original stone frieze.

A domed roof tops the new 8,200 square foot library building, and the clock tower at the entrance is certain to become a community landmark. The library includes a meeting room with space for 75 people, a smaller conference room, restrooms that conform to ADA regulations, a large foyer, and a circulation desk. The open interior features new carpet, ultra-modern lighting, all new furniture, including comfortable seating, tables, and shelves, and more space for patrons and staff throughout the building. Sparkling glass brick frames the circulation desk and admits light through an adjacent wall.

Twice the size of the previous library's main area, the octagon-shaped reading room provides an open, inviting space for patrons and staff to work in and enjoy. The new meeting room can accommodate large programs while smaller gatherings can take place in the conference room. The circulation desk provides workspace for the staff and leads to the staff work room, the librarian's office, and the staff kitchen and break area.

In 2007, after years of planning, the all-new West End Library welcomes the community to a beautiful, state-of- the-art building. The Birmingham Public Library opens these new doors with appreciation and pride.

Patron and Staff Appreciation
The West End Branch Library thrives under the care and attention of an enthusiastic and professional staff dedicated to providing excellent service, programs, and materials to the loyal and involved community it serves. The staff is committed to the Birmingham Public Library's mission to provide the highest quality library service and welcomes the opportunity to serve the patrons who have entrusted them with this responsibility.

The City of Birmingham
The Honorable Bernard Kincaid Mayor

The Birmingham City Council
Mrs. Carole Smitherman, President
Ms. Miriam Witherspoon, President Pro-Tem
Mr. Roderick Royal, Chair, Education Committee
Ms. Valerie A. Abbott
Mr. William Bell
Mr. Steven Hoyt
Mr. Joel Montgomery
Ms. Maxine Parker
Ms. Carol Reynolds

The Birmingham Library Board
Mrs. Lillie M. H. Fincher, President
Mrs. Gwendolyn B. Welch, Vice-President
Mr. Samuel S. Rumore, Jr, Parliamentarian
Mrs. E. Bryding Adams
Mr Thomas J. Adams, Jr.
Mrs. Nell Allen
Mrs. Shanta' Craig-Owens
Ms. Emily Norton
Mrs. Dora Sims
Mr. Jimmie S. Williams
Ms. Vickie Reynolds, Representative from the Mayor's Office

The Birmingham Public Library
Mrs. Barbara C. Simians, Director
Mrs. Renee Blalock, Associate Director
Mrs. Pamela 0. Lyons, Associate Director

West End Library Staff
Branch Head: Maya Jones
Library Assistant III: Denise Allen, Hugh Hardy, Jr.
Library Assistant II: Jokodrea Johnson
Library Assistant I: (Vacant)
Building Service Worker. Valerie Young
Volunteer: Janette Dallas

Architect: Khafra Engineers
Contractor: Eighteen Oaks
Interior Design: Margaret Jones Interiors


Ceremonial Program starts at 10:30 a.m.

Mrs. Lillie M.H. Fincher, President
Birmingham Library Board

Leonard Gavin
Chaplain at Princeton Baptist Medical Center

Mrs. Shelia Tyson, President
West End Community

Mrs. Nell Allen
Birmingham Library Board Member

Introduction of Board Members
Mrs. Lillie M.H. Fincher, President
Birmingham Library Board

Official Greetings
Bernard Kincaid, Mayor
City of Birmingham

Carole Smitherman, President
Birmingham City Council

Roderick Royal, Chair
Education Committee
Birmingham City Council

Recognition of Special Guests and Library Staff
Barbara C. Sirmans, Director
Birmingham Public Library

Closing Comments
Mrs. Gwendolyn Welch, Vice-President
Birmingham Library Board

Ribbon Cutting and Reception Immediately Following

Page Last Modified: 1/23/2014 4:15 PM