First organized by the St. Louis Public Library’s Board of Directors in 1989, the St. Louis Public Library Foundation was reorganized in 2003 and given the charge to increase private-sector support to benefit the growing needs of the St. Louis Public Library.
The St. Louis Public Library Foundation is an independent nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization registered with the IRS and the State of Missouri. All donations to the Foundation are fully tax-deductible as allowed by law.
The mission of the St. Louis Public Library Foundation is to support the Library’s programs and services through advocacy and fundraising and to build relationships with others who share a passion for the Library’s work.
St. Louis Public Library
The St. Louis Public Library was established in 1865 as the Public School Library Society of St. Louis. Originally a subscription Library open only to paying members, it was opened to the public for reference and reading on the premises in 1874. During 1893-94 the Library was re-established by voters to be led by an independent board and supported by a property tax as a free service available to all St. Louis residents.
The downtown Central Library was built with a substantial gift made in 1901 by Andrew Carnegie, along with six neighborhood Branches, four of which (Barr, Cabanne, Carpenter and Carondelet) are still in use. The original 1865 collection included 1500 books and by 1893 that number had grown to 90,000. Between 1894 and 1917 book deliveries, children’s programs and a librarian training school all began. By 1938 the collection grew to 900,000 books and other items. Today the system consists of 16 Branches and Central Library with more than 3.6 million items in its collection, 85,000 cardholders, over 300 full time staff and 2 million visitors annually.
The mission of the St. Louis Public Library is to provide learning resources and information services that support and improve individual, family and community life through a variety of services, programs and initiatives.