The Kendall-Whittier Library is located at 1st and Lewis. The cupola from the historic East Second Library is located at the Garden Center of the Tulsa Historical Society off Peoria.
The R.T. Daniel Meeting Room, seating 50, houses artist Shan Goshorn's hand painted historical photographs.
The Kendall-Whittier Library has Spanish books and videos for adults and children. The computer user will find 13 public computers, including 2 Spanish and checkout laptops for in-library use.
On a hot summer day in 1931, opening ceremonies were held for the largest of the four original library branches built in Tulsa. The East Second Library, located at 2537 E. Second St., stood on a lot donated by R.T. Daniel. It was a colonial revival red brick building with large windows and a vaulted ceiling. Virginia Allen Baird was the librarian in those early years. A current library customer fondly remembers riding his bicycle to the library during the 1930s. He recalls that Whittier Square was a thriving little business district with new homes springing up in the fields around the library.
In 1962, while Violet Williamson was the librarian, the East Second Library became part of the Tulsa City-County Library system. In the 1970s, the East Second Promoters, now known as the Kendall-Whittier Library Promoters, a library friends group, became very active. They had festivals on the lawn and book sales in the basement. The library was an integral part of the neighborhood.
The library served in its location on Second Street for more than 60 years. Many Tulsans fondly remember the old East Second Library. In spite of its charm, the old building wasn’t highly visible, wasn’t accessible, wasn’t technology compatible, and had other physical problems. Finally, in 1996, due to severe structural problems, the building was torn down.
A very small temporary facility was leased at First and Lewis streets while a site and funding were sought to build a new library. Even though the temporary building was only a couple of blocks from the site of the old building, it was out on a main street. The library staff started seeing new users who had never noticed the library back in the neighborhood. The staff especially noticed that more of the fast-growing Hispanic community started coming to the library.
A site across the street from the temporary facility was obtained from the Tulsa Development Authority in 1998 for the new building. With the passage of the 1998 library bond issue, money was allocated for a new building. The library hired the Tulsa architectural firm Fritz-Baily Inc. to design the building. Input was sought from the community. A Library Design Citizen Review Committee was formed. The committee wanted a building that would reflect the historical flavor of the Kendall-Whittier neighborhood. A design was chosen that included a red brick exterior, large windows, a vaulted ceiling, and architectural features that blended well with the historic buildings of the area.
On March 10, 2000, at 2 p.m. hundreds of people gathered as the doors were opened to the new Kendall-Whittier Library. The new 5,450-square-foot building, costing $775,000, houses 32,370 volumes. The R.T. Daniel meeting room, which seats 50, houses artist Shan Goshorn’s hand-painted historical photographs of the Kendall-Whittier area. The cupola from the original East Second Library is located at the Garden Center of the Tulsa Historical Society off Peoria
The community immediately flocked in record numbers to the new facility. In the new building, the staff has continued to build partnerships in the community, especially targeting the growing Hispanic population. To meet the needs of this population, the library added bilingual staff. Besides traditional library programming, the staff works with the community on events such as the Lights On at Whittier Square for the holidays and the Fourth of July parade. The library hosts two large multicultural, multigenerational family programs every year. The fiesta celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month is now a community tradition. Kite Day in the spring brings whole families to the library to make and fly kites.
We entered a new millennium to see a community rebuilding and the old East Second Library reborn as the new, very much alive, Kendall-Whittier Library.