Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thieves Target Birmingham Public Libraries

East Lake Branch 

For the fifth time in the last three months, thieves have broken into a Birmingham Public Library. Police responded to a call shortly after 7:30 a.m. regarding a glass break at the East Lake Branch location on Oporto Madrid Blvd. Upon arrival, police determined that other items may have been taken from inside the building. On yesterday, police responded to an alarm at the Smithfield Branch—the third break in at this location in as many months—where items were taken as well. In September, thieves broke into the Titusville Branch and made off with a costly piece of equipment.

“It is very disheartening that our libraries continue to be targeted,” stated Interim Library Director Angela Fisher Hall. “The public library is so important to the community it serves. The money that it takes to clean this up and make the necessary repairs or replacements, takes significant dollars away from library improvements, collections and programs. I think the community can help us in solving these crimes and hope that they will share what they know with the police.” Staff at the East Lake Branch will spend this morning having necessary repairs made, cleaning up the facility and preparing for the installation of security cameras. The facility will open to the public at 1:00 p.m. today.

The Childrens Department of the East Lake Branch
The East Lake Branch of the Birmingham Public Library began its life in a 25x50 foot room on the second floor of the East Lake Fire Station in 1914. After land was purchased in 1926 for a separate facility, the completed East Lake Branch Library was a two-story, Georgian Revival structure with 8,000 square feet of usable space. It was built using the same stone and buff bricks as the current East Lake Fire Station next door. It opened its doors in 1928 close to three elementary schools (at the time Barrett, Robinson and Kirby), Woodlawn High School and Howard College (now Samford University located in Homewood).

Located at One-Eighth Avenue West, the Smithfield Branch Library is one of the oldest branches in the Birmingham Public Library System. It first opened in 1918 as the Booker T. Washington Library and was one of the state's first libraries for black Alabamians. The branch library was located in three leased rooms of the Masonic Temple Building at 4th Avenue North and 17th Street. It was not until 1956 that the first Smithfield Library Branch building was dedicated. It holds an important place in the city's history, being the first building specifically built to hold a library for black residents of Birmingham.

The Titusville Branch Library was established in 1957 as the Southside Branch Library. The present structure, built in 1992, is an expansive glass and gray granite building.

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