Catonsville Branch History Banner


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Libraries have been important to the community of Catonsville for over a century. In the late 1800s, Library Hall on Frederick Road opposite Egges Lane provided a small book collection, with separate reading rooms for men and women. But it was not free; books were rented for a few cents a day.


In the 1930s need for a free public library was recognized. In 1941 the Catonsville Library Association, Inc., was formed. To fund the library, volunteers went door to door soliciting $1 from local residents. Donations of books and magazines were welcomed.


On July 1, 1941, the Catonsville Free Public Library opened its doors in a rented building on Frederick Road. By 1945 the book collection numbered 3,625 volumes for adults and 1,276 for children, plus newspapers and periodicals. There was also a branch library at the Banneker School.


The busy library soon outgrew its rented quarters. In 1945 the library association purchased a small brick building at 927 Frederick Road, where library service thrived, breaking previous daily circulation records.


Continued growth necessitated a new location. In 1961, land was purchased at 1100 Frederick Road. The new Catonsville Branch, part of the Baltimore County Public Library system, was dedicated in December 1963. The branch has flourished at this location with changes made when needed to serve the information needs of the community and the county.

The collection now includes books, DVDs, CDs, talking books, magazines, and a wide range of online databases for research. Computer catalogs have replaced the card catalogs of old


Full-time and several part-time librarians assist library users in their search for information. An able circulation staff serves the public and keeps materials in order. The Friends of the Catonsville Library, established in 1962, provides continued support to library projects, through generous donations, as well as staffing and maintaining the Catonsville Room.


The Catonsville Room


Catonsville Room interior at the Catonsville Branch

One of the special collections available at the Catonsville Branch is the Catonsville Room. Located on the lower level of the building, it is staffed by knowledgeable volunteers, most from the Friends of the Catonsville Library.


The collection contains information about the history of Catonsville as well as a history of the library. There are old maps, city directories, transcripts of oral histories, yearbooks of the Catonsville High School, and numerous picture collections.


The Catonsville Room is open every Thursday from 2 p.m. - 5 p.m. and on the first Wednesday night of the month from 7 p.m. - 8:45 p.m.. Call ahead to confirm, especially if the weather is bad


The Children's Mural in the Catonsville Branch Courtyard


 The mural in the lower courtyard of the Catonsville Branch

The mural in the Catonsville Branch's Heidelbach Memorial Garden is the culmination of a year-and-a-half community project that was spearheaded by the Catonsville Garden Club. The club voted unanimously to invite children from the area to decorate the mural. Then Catonsville Branch manager Fran Ware called it "a gift by the children of Catonsville to the people of Catonsville."


Garden Club conservation chairperson Nancy Sandbower proposed the concept and visited eight area schools to solicit participation. Students from Hillcrest, Maiden Choice, Catonsville Middle, Saint Mark's, Westowne, Saint Agnes, Saint Paul, and Delrey schools helped design the six panels that make up the mural. Each panel depicts a scene from a children's literature classic and is surrounded by a decorative border of vine cast.


The mural was officially dedicated on June 2, 1996 and can be seen in the Heidelbach Memorial Garden, located in the lower courtyard of the Catonsville Branch. It can easily be seen from windows in the children's area of the branch or the meeting room.

Catonsville Library Staff 6/96


Revised: January 2, 2015