Chapter 9, 1948-1952

CM StoryBrevard Street Branch now had professional library staff for the first time. Allegra Westbrooks had been hired the previous year as Head of Negro Library Services for the system. She was the first black library supervisor in the state and was to serve the library in various positions for over 35 years. Under her guidance, the black community became increasingly involved in the library through a citizen' advisory committee, which planned lecture series and discussion groups. Teenagers had a similar planning committee which met regularly, and a variety of programs were offered for children. The library system was desegregated in 1956 but the Brevard Street Branch continued to operate until December of 1961 when it was closed and demolished as part of the Brooklyn area urban redevelopment project.

Citizens Advisory Council meets with Allegra Westbrooks, Head of the Negro Library Services
The Brevard Street Branch

Librarian Sallie Phelps helps children select books.

Vacation Reading Club

The Teen-Age Corner: Dot Person, Young Adult Librarian, is at the right with the bow tie.

The Library Board continued to work for more space to accommodate new programs and the growing demand for services. In December 1952, Charlotte and Mecklenburg county voters approved a $1,600,000 bond issue for a new main library and nine branch buildings. New buildings were planned to replace rented facilities for the five town libraries and four new branches were opened within the city limits: East Branch, West Branch, North Branch, and South Branch.

Four new branches were part of the 1952 bond package.
This is a view of the East Branch soon after it opened.

Arequipa Park c. 1972

At the time the new main library building was being planned, two lots on the corner of Sixth and Tryon Streets were unavailable for purchase. The library wrapped around the buildings located there and had entrances on both streets. The architect's plans had included a design for a library park to be constructed at the corner when the property could be secured and in November 1971, Arequipa Park was dedicated as a symbol of friendship between Charlotte and her sister city of Arequipa, Peru.