About the Library

The Menlo Park Main Library and Belle Haven Branch Library are part of the Peninsula Library System, which includes libraries throughout San Mateo County.


Menlo Park Library has operated in a school, a hotel, City Hall, a restaurant, and a bungalow until settling down in the Civic Center. In 1916, the San Mateo County Library opened a branch library in the Central School on El Camino Real in Menlo Park. It contained 50 books and was presided over by Hanna Burke, a teacher at the school. In 1926, the library moved to the Kuck Hotel at Derry Lane and Oak Grove. Four years later, it moved again to City Hall on Doyle Street. For 9 years, 1062 borrowers used this facility until the next move to what is now the British Banker's Club. Being situated on the mezzanine required borrowers to climb 21 steps, but rent was only $5 a month. This arrangement lasted until 1948, when the library moved to a bungalow on Menlo Avenue. Not until 1957 was a building designed specifically as a library. Kingsford Jones, a Menlo Park architect, designed the one-story ranch style building with 2 patios and a brick and redwood exterior, giving it a rustic and informal atmosphere.

Helpful groups and organizations

Various groups assisted the library. The Junior League delivered books to homebound readers. The Peninsula Storyteller's Guild gave storytimes for children. The Friends of the Library was founded to support the library by raising funds for its resources, facilities, programs and events. Their first book fair was held in 1960 and among the purchases from the proceeds was a photocopier, making Menlo Park's the first public library in Northern California to have this service.

Growth of the library

The one-millionth book checked out was to 4-year old Willie Farrar on Feb. 10, 1962. Two years later, the library became independent of the county library. The addition of a new wing in 1968 tripled its size with picture windows added for pleasant reading. Another 7,000 square feet was added in 1992, in addition to a complete remodel.

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