The idea for a library in Raleigh was instigated by the local efforts of the Weeders and Seeders Garden Club. On June 15, 1954, the Raleigh-Bartlett Community Library opened in the Weaver Building on James Road. The library started with 800 donated books that were arranged on shelves made of apple boxes and scrap lumber.
The library was only open eight hours per week, but by December of 1954 the library had grown to 2200 volumes and in the library’s first six months of operation had checked out 2500 books and registered 500 library users!
The following pages tell more about the library's history.
By 1955, the library had over 100 volunteers that had assisted in the library’s operation. In July the library moved to a white frame house at 4225 James Road. The house was said to have been the Shelby County Courthouse at some time in the 1850’s. Paint, repairs and labor for the new community library were contributed by the Lions Club of Bartlett and the Kiwanis Club of Raleigh. Weeders and Seeders Club maintained the landscaping.
Community support continued to grow through local efforts and fundraising including various book, white elephant, and bake sales as well as an anti-bellum tea at the historic Raleigh home Goodwinslow. By 1964, the library had 14,215 volumes and was so crowded the sink had to be removed from the kitchen so additional shelving could be added there.
Between November 1965 and November 1966 construction of a new 10,000 square foot library for the Raleigh community at the current location on Powers Road was completed. The Raleigh Branch library has been a popular attraction to the residents of its community ever since.
In 1997, the Raleigh Branch of the Memphis/Public Library & Information Center checked out over 210,000 items, answering over 60,000 information questions, and serving over 225,000 library customers.