History of the nicholson memorial library system

Picture of the first Garland Library - from the Garland newspaperLibrary service was established in the City of Garland as a result of a tornado that tore a path of destruction through the northwest corner of Garland on May 9, 1927.  The tornado claimed fourteen lives in Garland, including Mrs. Missouri Nicholson and her son, the former mayor, S. E. Nicholson.

Seeking to provide a lasting memorial to his mother and brother, W. R. Nicholson of Longview, Texas, purchased a former bank building on the northeast corner of the Garland Square and donated it to the city.  In December 1933, the remodeled building reopened and housed both a community center and a 1,200 square foot library. The Library initially operated with volunteers, but later, city funded employees were hired.  Shortly after World War II, the Library became a member of the Dallas County Library System. 

In 1957, the Library was designated as a department of the City of Garland and funding for library services was increased.  In 1965, the Library became independent of the Dallas County Library System and, to this day, continues to be fully-funded by the City of Garland.

In the mid-1960s a bond program passed for long-range development of a new library facility.  In 1965, the Library moved to a 5,000 square foot remodeled space at 504 State Street, as an interim location, until a new building could be constructed.

Central Library exteriorOn August 31, 1970, the building known today as the Central Library, opened at 625 Austin Street.  City voters approved bond issues in 1971 and 1984, to add a total of approximately 41,000 square feet to the Central Library and to open four new branch libraries. In 1974, a 6,000 square foot remodeled bank building was opened in south Garland as the Ridgewood Branch Library.

Walnut Creek Branch exteriorIn 1975, the 5,000 square foot Walnut Creek Branch Library opened in west Garland. By 1989, a lower level was added to the Central Library, expanding that facility to 59,475 square feet.+


North Garland Branch exteriorThe 16,500 square foot North Garland Branch Library opened in 1992 in a renovated portion of a storefront retail shopping center. In 1997, the Walnut Creek Branch was renovated and expanded to 8,000 square feet, with its entrance reversed to front on Edgewood Drive. In 1998, the Ridgewood Branch was renovated.

South Garland Branch exteriorIn 2001, the last of the four branch libraries opened.  A 36,935 square foot former grocery store was completely renovated and opened to serve as the new South Garland Branch Library, boasting designated areas for quiet study, teen use and a community technology center. 


Through donations from the Friends of the Nicholson Memorial Library System, Garland businesses and individual library supporters, Kids Town, a theme-based children’s area with custom graphics designed to reflect Garland’s downtown square in the late 1920s was added. 

Citizens approved a bond project in 2004 to begin a series of needed library renovations.North Garland Branch interior

In 2007, the North Garland Branch Library, opened in 1992, was completely renovated.  Major rearrangements of the floor plan were made for improved efficiency and furnishings were added to accommodate wireless access users. In addition, four group study rooms, a coffee vending court with bistro tables and a larger computer use area were constructed. Contributions by the Friends of the Nicholson Memorial Library System made possible a theme-based custom graphics area for preschoolers. 

In 2008, renovations were completed at three facilities.  At the Central Library, a large, landscaped patio area was constructed near the entrance of the Central Library.  Colorful fabric shade structures were mounted above streetscape outdoor furniture and additional furniture was added around the Library’s portico.

A refurbishment of the Walnut Creek Branch Library was funded through certificates of obligation. Walnut Creek Branch interior

South Garland Branch interiorThe South Garland Branch Library was renovated with bond funds.  Non-public space was reallocated for public use, which created a larger media area, six group study rooms, a vending court and larger reading areas.   

Also in 2008, the Ridgewood Branch was closed due to anticipated maintenance costs for the original 1964 facility. 

Central Library ELS PCsIn 2011, bond funds were used to renovate the main floor of the Central Library.   Donations by the Friends of the Nicholson Memorial Library System made possible a jungle-themed children’s area, as well as a coffee Central Library group study roomsvending area.  Other renovations included relocation of high activity areas to the main floor, with the lower level converted to a quiet floor.  New areas included a community technology center, expanded new book area, four group study rooms, a self-service holds pickup area, a periodical reading area and a lobby area with comfortable seating and wireless access.

Today, the Central Library and three branch locations offer a total of 120,910 square feet of space for library users, as well as extensive online premium databases, resources and services for library cardholders.  The Library was one of the first public libraries in Texas to offer downloadable books.  It offers a WIFI network for the public, computers for preschoolers, each with 50 specialized software learning programs, many based on Texas education standards.

Garland Public Library logoThe Nicholson Memorial Library System serves the residents of the City of Garland and the surrounding area.  The library system provides access to a wide range of informational, educational, cultural and recreational material, programs and services.