Twin Smiley Brothers Funded Library
Soon after the City of Redlands was incorporated in 1888, many citizens began to see the need for a public library. As a temporary measure, a number of private groups established public reading rooms.
In December 1891, several prominent citizens joined together to secure a public library. Alfred Smiley, one of Redlands’ winter residents from the East, became a prime mover in the crusade.
REDLANDS PUBLIC LIBRARY, located in the old Y.M.C.A. building on the northwest corner of Cajon and Vine Streets, was dedicated on February 22, 1894. The need for a larger and permanent headquarters soon became apparent. Smiley earnestly desired to obtain a building. Throughout 1896, Alfred Smiley discussed plans for a future permanent library with his twin brother and close associate, Albert K., who by pleasant coincidence wanted to provide a downtown park in Redlands. By March of 1897, Albert Smiley had purchased sixteen acres of downtown land and decided to build Redlands its new library building.
A.K. SMILEY PUBLIC LIBRARY and surrounding Smiley Park was dedicated on April 29, 1898. In order to complete his personal philanthropy, Albert Smiley had to borrow $40,000. In all, the library and park cost him over $60,000.
By 1907, the needs of the library had grown so quickly that Albert Smiley added a $12,000 expansion. And in 1920, Daniel Smiley, a younger brother, added a wing which cost $10,000. Through the generosity of Eldridge M. Lyon and by public contributions, additional wings were added to the library in 1926 and 1930. Designated as a Redlands Centennial project in 1987, the Library celebrated its largest, and most costly ($4.1 million), library expansion in 1990. A privately funded effort rebuilt the Moorish style tower in 1999. In 2002 the exterior was restored to its original red Moorish style and the roof completely renovated.
Unique in its architecture, A.K. Smiley Public Library is an official point of historical interest designated by the California Historical Landmarks Advisory Committee, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
360 Degree Virtual Library Tour
In this interactive 360-degree story, you can control your tour. Venture over to the auction, or go downstairs to the bookstore. Listen to a story in the Young Readers Room before you go through the door and out to the Lincoln Shrine.
Read the history of the library, buy a Friends membership, be inspired by the Adult Literacy Program and don’t miss the treasures in the Heritage Room.
Click, drag and look around.
You can learn about anything you click on.
Want to know the library’s hours? Click on the clock.
See photo galleries of the stained-glass windows, and of the art in the building.
Go from room to room by clicking on the photos in the doorways or stairwells.
Library Board of Trustees
William Hatfield, President
William T. Hardy
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Please see our holiday schedule for additional days we are closed.
Agendas and Minutes
The last 12 months of agendas and minutes kept online.