The suburb of Takoma Park, located in the northern section of the District, began as a real estate venture in 1883 when Benjamin Franklin Gilbert purchased 90 acres spanning the Metropolitan Branch of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. By the 1890s, the area had grown into a popular commuter suburb, offering the convenience of streetcar service to the city’s center combined with the natural, healthful surroundings of a semi-rural setting. At the turn of the 20th century, the burgeoning population of Takoma Park created a demand for additional services that residents had formerly received in the city center. One such amenity was the convenience of a nearby library.
The relative wealth and high level of education in the community made possible the organization of a local library, privately run and funded through community subscription. This small lending library, known as the Takoma Club and Library, was opened May 1, 1900, at numbers 10, 12 and 14 Oak Ave., across from the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad station. The library originally held approximately 100 volumes, growing to 600 by 1903. This library served the community until 1911, when the present public library branch was opened.