The Ballard Carnegie Library, also known as the Seattle Public Library--Ballard Branch, is a historic library in the Ballard neighborhood in Seattle, Washington. The library was predated by a freeholders' library in the 1860s, which eventually gave way to a reading room that was organized and funded by a women's' group in 1901. With a grant for $15,000, among other funds, a new library for the then independent City of Ballard was created as a Carnegie library. The building, located at 2026 N.W. Market Street in downtown Ballard, opened to the public on June 24, 1904. Notable as the first major branch of the Seattle public library system, after Seattle annexed the City of Ballard into itself in 1907, and for employing one of the first African American librarians in Seattle, the Ballard Carnegie Library was in service until 1963, when a newer and more modern facility replaced it. After its sale, the old library building housed a variety of private commercial enterprises, including an antique shop, a restaurant and a kilt manufacturer.
Initially, the library had a cache of books waiting for the completion and grand opening that was provided by local residents and schools, as Carnegie's gift for the construction did not cover the initial costs of new books. A call was also put out for citizens to donate books to the new facility to expand the collection. In 1907, the Seattle Public Library took control of the Carnegie library, when Ballard was annexed by the neighboring City of Seattle government. Early Scandinavian immigrants to Ballard and the Pacific Northwest in particular made use of the new facility; Ballard as an area has a strong historical presence of Scandinavian people. Early in the library's existence, it had a turnstile at the entrance to its book stacks, to count the number of book borrowers that passed through. With the arrival of World War I, the Carnegie Library became home to various community activities, such as dispensing information on the war, and also provided Red Cross and English language classes. In 1942, during World War II, one of the first African American librarians in Seattle, Lucille Smith, was assigned to the Carnegie library.
In 1956, Seattle voters approved a municipal bond to replace what was by then considered the "inadequate and impractical" library. The Ballard Carnegie Library eventually was shut in 1963, when a new, larger public library was built in the area, and the Carnegie building became an antique store. One of the cited reasons for the closure and sale of the library building were expert claims that the building would never survive an earthquake (of which Seattle had numerous instances, both before and after 1963). The building has, in fact, survived several quakes since 1963.
The building is now owned by Karoline Morrison and her husband, Dennis Beals. It is home to Carnegie's, a French restaurant which opened in 2003, and to North Channel Kilts, a kilt manufacturer. The area around Market Street in Ballard, where the library building is located, is one of the areas of Seattle that is quickly rising in land value, and has been compared to Belltown, a growing Seattle neighborhood that is affected by gentrification. As the Carnegie Library building is without the City of Seattle's "City landmark status" despite its NRHP status, the structure is at risk from new development.