The Main Library on Jack Warner Parkway
Construction of the new building
Shortly after the library relocated to the Jemison Mansion, serious concerns about the adequacy of this new facility led to consideration of a new building. In 1964, the first survey of needs led to a proposed new structure. Discussions were held about a new building for the library between governmental officials, civic leaders and the Library Board for over 5 years. In 1975, the survey was updated and an architect, Charles R. Ralston, presented the first schematic drawing to the Library Board. In late 1976, voters approved an initial bond issue.
In addition to financial issues, the selection of a site for the building proved to be difficult. The Northington Campus area (corner of Hargrove Road and McFarland Boulevard), the corner of 13th Street and Queen City Avenue (adjacent to the Stafford Elementary School) and the former softball field on River Road were considered. The first two sites were rejected by the governmental agencies that owned those properties. Tuscaloosa Mayor C. Snow Hinton then offered the River Road site to the Library Board.
The River Road site had soil and drainage conditions that required a more complex and expensive preparation and foundation. Funding by the county, and the cities of Tuscaloosa and Northport was in question due to the cost of the building with charges and counter charges leveled against each other and the Library Board. A budget was finally approved and construction continued with completion expected in the spring of 1979.
The next hurdle was furnishing the building and moving the collection. The Friends of the Library as well as other local clubs assisted in this and the library opened on July 30, 1979.
At the same time the name of the library was changed. The building on River Road was named the Friedman Library Building but the system’s name was changed to the Tuscaloosa Public Library.
The long awaited move to the new building on River Road (now Jack Warner Parkway) provided space for services that could have only been dreamed of in their previous facility.
Celebrating 10 Years on River Road
In 1989 a celebration was held for the 10 year anniversary of the library being on River Road.
Renovating the Building
In 1999 after more than 2 decades in the River Road location, it was time for the building to be renovated. Almost 2 years of work would result in a facility that was better suited for a world increasingly dependent on technology. A new computer lab was among the additions included in the renovation.
A private reception for board members, elected officials, staff and invited guests was held on Friday, February 16, 2001 with an Open House and Grand Reopening held on Saturday, February 17, 2001.
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