Its partnership with Kroger gave the branch its first good building after 3 bad tries

library

Seen behind a Dallas Pride parade in the early 1990s, the old Oak Lawn branch, which sat in the middle of what’s now Kroger’s parking lot, featured an unfinished second floor (Dallas Voice archive)

 

DAVID TAFFET  |  Senior Staff Writer

The Oak Lawn Branch of the Dallas Public Library celebrates its 20th anniversary in its current building with an event on Dec. 10 at 2 p.m.

“We’ll be celebrating our partnership with Kroger and with Friends of the Oak Lawn Library,” said Branch Manager Nello Moa.
Moa said the event will start with a small ceremony and will be followed by live entertainment.

Over the year, Friends of the Oak Lawn Library has purchased furniture for the branch, funded adult and children’s programming and brought material for the collection.

The branch’s connection to Kroger dates back 20 years when the supermarket chain replaced the library’s former building with the current, larger one at the corner of Cedar Springs Road and Knight Street.

The previous building was only about 12 years old, and was located in the middle of what is now Kroger’s parking lot.

The building lacked much meeting space and never looked finished. A second floor that might have been intended to be a deck was surrounded by walls with openings that looked like windows were supposed to be installed but never were. For the first few years, the building looked like it was unfinished and for the last few years looked like it was abandoned and dilapidated.
Inside, weird, curved ramps led from the entrance to the stacks.

That building replaced a branch that was on Lemmon Avenue between Oak Lawn and Turtle Creek in a former Safeway. That branch had all the charm of an abandoned supermarket that was more than 30 years old and never updated. The building was where the Sub-Zero and Wolf showroom now stands.

Before the Lemmon Avenue location, a tiny Oak Lawn branch sat in the strip center on Oak Lawn at Lemmon avenues.

So after two small rental locations followed by an architectural disaster, Kroger’s offer was welcomed. The new building would include a community room, additional stacks, reading areas and ample office space. The new design was also classic and brought the library out to the street and closer to the Strip.

Earlier this year, Kroger offered to build a new, larger branch.

Kroger’s Cedar Springs Road store is very successful and the company would like to expand it. That would mean taking up parking on the Knight Street side of the building. In a plan presented to the community, Kroger suggested putting the new branch on the second floor of the expansion, so it could use the area now taken by the library for more parking.

Moa said that plan is on hold. Councilman Philip Kingston had expressed legal questions about the city transferring property to a private company.

Moa said 20 years in this location and its partnership was Kroger was something to celebrate. He said in January, the branch will begin offering American Sign Language and art lessons. Later in the spring, he said to look for speakers and he invited artists looking for a place to showcase their art to contact him.

The official 20th anniversary celebration of the Oak Lawn Branch takes place in the auditorium of the Oak Lawn branch from 2-4 p.m. on Dec. 10.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 2, 2016.