The Takoma Park Neighborhood Library opened Nov. 17, 1911, with many prominent speakers, including Theodore W. Noyes, president of the Library’s Board of Trustees, Dr. George F. Bowerman, Head Librarian of the DC Public Library, Reverend Thomas C. Clark of the Takoma Park Presbyterian Church, and Colonel Gilbert C. Kniffen, a representative of the Takoma Park citizens group. The speakers praised the efforts of the community for obtaining the library with Dr. Bowerman predicting that it would become a “social and intellectual center of community life” in Takoma Park.
The branch opened with 3,871 volumes purchased or permanently transferred from the central library, which continued to supplement the branch collection. The first branch librarian was Alice Ramsburg, a former employee at the central library. She was assisted by a children’s librarian, an assistant librarian and a janitor who lived in the basement.
The library quickly assumed a central role in the life of the community. In the first two weeks, three local organizations held meetings in the building’s lecture hall. These were the Takoma Park Citizens Association, the Boy Scouts and the Home Interest Club. Community use of the library peaked in 1925 when 230 meetings and classes were held for 5,716 patrons. Book circulation was promising in the first seven months, reaching 23,663 volumes.
However, the operation of Washington’s first neighborhood library was not always smooth. Less than a year after the opening, Congress reduced the annual appropriation to a meager $1,560, necessitating the discharging of staff and a 20 percent reduction in the branch librarian’s salary. The hours of operation were also reduced to three days a week, 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.