Our story begins with the closure and sale of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library on 19th and Cedar Street in the City of Tacoma. This library was originally established to serve the literary needs of the Hilltop Community.

In February and March, 2014, a series of four cafes, addressing the replacement of the library and the restoration of literacy services, were attended by over 120 community and organizational representatives. Two main ideas emerged during the cafes. The first was the idea of advocacy, not only at the policy level, but also with the businesses and residents of the Hilltop Community. The second was that the Hilltop needed a replacement of the physical library space that included multi-media services, the arts, and multi-generational literary programming comparable to the rest of the libraries in Pierce County and Seattle. General comments of the February 28 café indicated people were anxious to get started on the project when they closed the meeting with the following statement “Why wait; let’s access our strengths and let’s do something now; let’s create something better than what we had.”

Committees needed to move the work forward were named. Participants expressed interest in being on a steering committee that would oversee and coordinate the work groups. In addition to forming work groups with targeted actions and objectives, the group decided it was important to continue the community dialogues. Participants explored the ideas of working with children in kindergarten through the third grade and exchanging knowledge between youth who are fluent in digital devices with those elders whose wisdom would be of value to parents of early learners and young people.


Since then, while council members have come and gone, the slow and steady work of advocating for a new library in the Hilltop has continued–through changing political landscapes and a global pandemic–to see a feasibility study completed in 2022 and now, the potential for a new library is on the Tacoma City Council’s radar as they plan city commitments for the future. To find out how you can help, attend an HLPC Zoom meeting, Take Action, volunteer, or donate!