home > library information > about Hennepin County Library > 125 years of library service Highlights
1885Minneapolis Public Library (MPL) founded and first Library Board met.
1886Ground broken for downtown (Central) library building at 10th and Hennepin Ave.
1888 Herbert Putnam named director of MPL and went on book-buying trip to Europe!
1889Library building at 10th and Hennepin Ave. opened.
1892 James K. Hosmer replaced Putnam as director and appointed Gratia Country as assistant director.
1893 Library opened Children's Room downtown - the first in the country - and books were loaned to public school collections.
1904 Gratia Countryman became director of MPL.
1905 First factory stations opened, beginning library outreach services to the community.
1912 MPL received Carnegie grant of $125,000 for four new libraries.
1915 Hennepin County Commissioners began allocating $1,000 annually to cover costs for non-city residents to use MPL.
1921 One-mill tax levy established to create Hennepin County Library.
1922 HCL organized, working out of MPL.
HCL's "book wagon" made its first trip in June serving residents outside of Minneapolis.
1925 Ethel Berry became the first director of HCL.
1928 A Model-T Ford truck with a small walk-in back replaced the "book wagon."
1933 Gratia Countryman elected president of American Library Association.
1937 Gratia Countryman, MPL director and HCL founder, retired.
1943 MPL Library Board allowed janitors to plant victory gardens at library branches to support the wartime effort.
1947 MPL Library Board approved the new site for Central Library.
MPL started "Great Books" program as adult outreach.
1952 HCL celebrated its 30th anniversary - 24 libraries in system.
1956 HCL acquired a second bookmobile.
1958 MPL broke ground for new Central Library at 4th and Nicollet Ave.; HCL's circulation surpassed one million.
1961 New Central Library opened at 4th and Nicollet.
Newspaper on microfilm available at MPL.
1967 Legislature authorized HCL to levy one mill to buy, improve and construct buildings.
1968 MPL opened its first new library in 37 years (Nokomis).
MPL hosted a "Bring In" day where no fines were charged for overdue items.
1969 Formation of MELSA (Metropolitan Library Service Agency) fostered library cooperation among the nine public library systems in the Twin Cities. HCL & MPL began accepting each other's library cards and returned books.
1970 First systemwide summer series presented at HCL, attracting 12,000 youngsters.
MPL and HCL merger discussed.
MPL converted to the Library of Congress classification and began circulating cassette tapes.
1971 HCL's Outreach Services began providing services to the homebound.
MPL installed electronic detection equipment at checkouts at the Central Library.
1972 HCL replaced its card catalogs at individual libraries with a systemwide book catalog.
1973 HCL opened Southdale Library, which included its first "electric library" with a large media desk, media lab and bright colors!
HCL administrative staff moved to offices at Southdale Library.
1974 MPL eliminated charging suburban borrowers.
1979 MPL replaced its card catalog with a microfilm catalog.
1983 MPL's Friends' book shop opened at Minneapolis Central.
1984 HCL automated its circulation system at all but four of its libraries.
1985 MPL celebrated its centennial.
1986 HCL discontinued its card catalog and went to a microfiche-only catalog. The Library Foundation of Hennepin County was formed.
1992 MPL staff answered 3 million reference questions.
1993 HCL installed a new computer system that, in addition to circulation functions, enabled customers to check their borrowing records.
1994 Self-service checkout began at MPL.
1996 Both HCL & MPL launched websites. HCL installed Netscape (browser) on public computers at 11 suburban libraries.
1997 HCL began email notification of reserves.
1998 Telephone notification and email reference questions implemented at HCL.
1999 HCL's website (hclib.org) was designated Library Site of the Month by LibrarySpot.com. The first automated materials handling system was installed at Ridgedale Library. MPL introduced Web-based catalog.
2000 Visits to hclib.org topped 1 million for the first time. Minneapolis residents passed referendum for funding a new Minneapolis Central Library.
2002 24/7 online "live" chat reference on hclib.org.
2003 Wireless Internet access offered at 12 suburban libraries. Online registration for events and classes goes live at hclib.org. TeenLinks chosen by teens using Teen Houpla as one of the top five library sites they found to be the best.
2004 Visits to hclib.org topped 5 million.
2006 HCL entered social media with MySpace and Flickr. Visits to hclib.org exceeded 10 million and customers can contribute their comments to the catalog.
2007 HCL launched BookSpace, which won first place in the Web Services category of The Public Technology Institute's 2006-2007 Technology Solutions Award. HCL established a Facebook account.
2008 MPL and HCL merger took place. MPL and HCL websites combined into one.
2009 One online catalog. Online "live" homework tutoring. Visits to hclib.org exceeded 15 million.
2010 eBooks added to collection. Online self-serve meeting room reservations added.
2011 HCL became first Minnesota library system to launch a mobile app.

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