As Central Library nears its reopening, we are reminded that it is the heart of the St. Louis Public Library system. But if it is the heart, then the Branches are the veins that carry life-enriching materials and services to St. Louisans in every corner of the city. Like Central, many Branches have been around as long (or longer!) as the heartiest of our patrons. Their names reflect not only Library history, but also St. Louis’ history. Some honor individuals or families, while others pay tribute to the neighborhoods they serve.

  • Baden—Named for the community it serves, which was a separate municipality until becoming part of the City of St. Louis in 1875. The original Baden Library was opened on July 23, 1928, in a former mounted police substation at 8316 N. Broadway.


  • Barr—Named after Mr. and Mrs. William Barr, who donated the land in 1901. The Branch stands on the site of the Mount Calvary Episcopal Church, which was demolished by the “great St. Louis cyclone” on May 27, 1896.


  • Buder—Originally opened in the Susan R. Buder School in 1922. Mr. G. A. Buder, Sr. donated money for the furniture and equipment as a memorial to his mother, an educator after whom the school was named.


  • Cabanne—Named for the neighborhood it serves, which was named after early St. Louis settler, Jean Pierre Cabanne. The Cabanne Library Association was instrumental in the naming of the Branch.


  • Carondelet—Also named after its neighborhood. A bronze plaque designating Carondelet Branch as an historic site was presented on September 20, 1981. The building is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


  • Carpenter—Named for George O. Carpenter. In 1925, while president of the St. Louis Public Library Board, Carpenter announced his plans to donate land for the new Branch. The Board unanimously resolved to name it in his honor.


  • Compton—Built in 1957, the Branch was named for Charles H. Compton, who had been Assistant Librarian since 1921 and was Head of the Library from 1938-1950.


  • Divoll—Named as a tribute to Ira Divoll, who founded the St. Louis Public School Library in 1865. This later became the St. Louis Public Library. Divoll’s devotion to education led him to become known as the “father of public libraries in St. Louis.”


  • Julia Davis—Named after Dr. Julia Davis, a prominent St. Louis educator and historian of more than 60 years. This was the first time the St. Louis Public Library Board named a Branch after a living person.

  • Kingshighway—Opened in the Southwest Garden Neighborhood in 1916, and was named
    because Kingshighway was the most recognizable street near it. This location replaced the old Fairmount Branch. Philip Rau had a “deposit station” in his store at 5131 Shaw Avenue, and this small frame building was used until the Fairmount sub-Branch opened in October 1916. The sub-Branch became a full Branch in 1960.


  • Machacek—Named for Charles Machacek, a piano and violin teacher who bequeathed his
    estate to the St. Louis Public Library for a Branch to perpetuate his family’s name. The unusual design of the building took third place for new construction in the 1974 City Beautification Awards.


  • Schlafly—Formerly known as Lashly, this location was named for Daniel and Adelaide
    Schlafly, prominent St. Louisans who have been great supporters of St. Louis Public Library for decades. The Branch is housed on the first floor of the City of St. Louis’ Argyle parking garage. It opened on January 7, 2001.


  • Walnut Park—Named for the community it serves. In 1969, the current site was accepted by area residents. A book brigade of youngsters and adults moved 16,000 books from the old building at 5240 W. Florissant Avenue. to the current building on Sept. 23, 1972.

Our three mini-Branches have names inspired by their mission, literary reference, or location. There is Central Express, which serves as a convenient satellite location to Central in the heart of downtown; Charing Cross, which is named for a section of London famous for its book stores; and St. Louis Marketplace, which is located in the St. Louis Marketplace shopping center.

So, what’s in a name? In the case of Library Branches, much more than meets the eye.