Although, the Alexandria Library Company started as a subscription library in 1794, the public library as we know it today started in 1937 with the construction of the Barrett Library, at 717 Queen Street, named for Dr. Kate Waller Barrett, a Virginia-born philanthropist and suffragette. It was given as a gift to the city from her son and named in her honor. While Kate was a medical doctor, she is best known for her absolute devotion to the fight for women’s rights and the care of disadvantaged women. She co-founded the Florence Crittenton Mission alongside Charles N. Crittenton, taking a very active role in the Mission’s running. The Crittenton Homes are still active today.
Come celebrate our 85th anniversary as a public, free library with a book sale sponsored by the Friends of the Barrett Branch, refreshments, and an author talk and book signing at 1 PM sponsored by our Local History Branch, "Public in name only : the 1939 Alexandria Library sit-in demonstration" by Brenda Mitchell-Powell. Just two years after the Barrett Library building opened, it was the site of the first known civil rights sit-in at a library.
Meet with local community organizations like Go Alex and Visit Alexandria.
We also invite you to add a leaf to the Branches in Our Community project in each branch. Write on that leaf what the Library means to you, or how it has affected your life, and our trees will bloom with support, stories, and love.
Portrait of Kate Waller Barrett: Library of Congress, Bain News Service Photograph Collection (LC-B2-3729-3 [P&P] (url https://www.loc.gov/item/2014700796/ )