This week we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the dedication of our Central Library building. On October 17, 1964, the newly built 5-story Library, the anchor of the Buffalo & Erie County System, was formally opened by civic leaders, authors, educators, and a crowd of spectators. Dedication events included concerts on the Library ramp by the U.B. Band and U.S. Army Band.
At 375, 000 square feet, it was the largest public library built in the United States since WWII. Covering two city blocks, the building is longer, at 437 feet, than the height of City Hall, at 378 feet. Built to house over 2 million volumes, much of the collection is housed in the Closed Stacks, two floors of storage between public floors, known to staff as “the tiers.” By 1965, there were 50 miles of shelving in the Library.
The original interior design featured royal blue and vermilion (bright orange-red) furniture, and black walnut wood paneling and fixtures.
The construction of the Central Library was one of the many milestones in the merging of the Buffalo Public Library, the Erie County Library System, and the Grosvenor Reference Library. Many of the books that were moved into the Central Library from the Grosvenor and Buffalo Public Libraries form the core of our current Local History and Genealogy Collections.
“More important than any building as a material entity is the spirit and philosophy which animates it. And no one can mistake the beliefs and aspirations that underlie our investments in free public libraries. They bespeak our dedication to freedom to read and the pursuit of truth and enlightenment.” “More Than a Building.” Editorial. Buffalo News, October 17, 1964.