The Excelsior Library was created
through the efforts of Judith Horton
with the help of the Excelsior Club
and George N. Perkins, editor of the
Guthrie Guide. Horton's husband had
been denied access to the Guthrie
Carnegie Library which opened in
1903. The first Excelsior Library opened
in a house at 323 S. 2nd in 1908 and is
believed to be the first African American
library in Oklahoma. Statistics show that
the library was busy with the January
1912 monthly report showing that the
library had 957 visitors and 520 books
loaned. By 1048 the Excelsior Library
reported an annual circulation of 25,378
items with a book stock of only 2,810.
The current library was built as a part of a bond issue passed in Guthrie on December 7,
1954. The Excelsior Library project was added just three weeks before the bond vote at
the request of the African American chamber of Commerce. The request was made to
the city council to replace the old Excelsior because of the poor condition of the building.
The new library was also advocated for because it would provide a meeting space for
African American clubs and groups and would provide a wholesome place for children
to gather.

The Excelsior Library bond issue was presented seven months after the May 17, 1954
court ruling that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. Proponents for the
new library argued that, even if desegregation occurred, a new community meeting
center would still be needed.

After desegregation impacted all public facilities, the Excelsior Library was converted to
a branch library. A new integrated library replaced both the Carnegie and the Excelsior
libraries in 1970. After the library was moved to its new facility, the building continued to
be used as a meeting space and event center until it was converted as a temporary space
for the Guthrie Police department in the mid nineties. When the Police Department moved
to City Hall, it was used as the Guthrie Arts Center until 2014.

Today the Excelsior building is in danger as time and maintenance issues have caused the
building to fall into disrepair. The Friends of the Excelsior Library has been formed  to try
to save the building and the Logan County Historical Society has nominated the building
for the National Register of Historic Places. It is one of the last African American libraries
that was built in the country and one of two remaining libraries built for African Americans
remaining in Oklahoma
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