Library History

Humboldt County has a long and distinguished history of public library service. In 1878, Eureka became the first city in California to support a free public library with public funds. Arcata followed soon after, and in 1910, Ferndale opened its new Carnegie library.

In 1915, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors established the County Free Library to serve county residents outside the cities of Eureka, Ferndale and Arcata.   Five branches were established:
Blue Lake, Fortuna, Garberville,Trinidad, and Willow Creek. Additional branch libraries were later opened at McKinleyville (1916), Rio Dell (1919), and Hoopa (1927). The older libraries in Arcata and Ferndale became affiliated with the county system, and, in 1972. Eureka’s Free Public Library and the Humboldt County Libraries were consolidated into one library system.

Today, the Humboldt County Library, in cooperation with local jurisdictions, serves all county residents through a networked structure of 10 branches, a bookmobile, and the Main Library in Eureka. 
A sketch shows the library with its banks of windows above, among trees, and reflected in the harbou
Eureka's Main Library Building
The Eureka Main Library was dedicated in 1995 under librarian Judy Klapproth.  Designed by Robert J. Gianelli Architects of Napa, California, it is a large, beautiful light-filled building overlooking the harbor.  The modern redwood exterior shows the influence of the American Arts and Crafts Movement of the early 20th century. The library was built by the combined efforts of the many citizens of the County, the Board of Supervisors, the Friends of the Redwood Libraries, the Library Construction Advisory Committee, and the California State Library.  Construction was funded in part by the California Library Construction and Renovation Bond Act of 1988. 

Carnegie Library
The original 1902 Carnegie Library building has been preserved and can still be seen at 636 F Street in Eureka, where it functions as the Morris Graves Museum of Art.