As far back as 1930, City officials realized the indispensability to supplement schools and social welfare institutions by establishing a city public library system. So, under the stewardship of the pre-war National Library, funds were appropriated for the operation of four city public libraries: Manila Business Library (now Manila. San Francisco Friendship Library), Tondo Public Library, Paco Public Library (now Manila Sacramento Friendship Library and Sampaloc Public Library. Then, war came and ended. Almost immediately, around September 1945, the pre-war personnel of the Manila branches were recalled and the four pioneer libraries were reopened.
Subsequently, on October 28, 1946, Ordinance 2982 was approved, which provided that the Manila City Library and all its branches shall be controlled, managed and administered by a Superintendent who shall be under the general supervision of the city public libraries could operate without the intervention and supervision of the National Library.
Opinion was sought from the Secretary of Justice. In his Opinion No. 113 dated April 28, 1948, Secretary Ramon Ozaeta ruled that the post-war city public libraries established and operated exclusively by the City. That opinion categorically emancipated the Manila City Library from the National Library.
Since the organization of the Manila City Library in October 28, 1946, there followed a rapid increase of city libraries. As soon as the four pioneer libraries were re-opened, the City Administration, demonstrating serious concern for the library system supported a formidable project that by 1962, there existed 19 library service outlets in the different districts of Manila.
In 1965, Mayor Antonio J. Villegas issued his Executive Order No. 40 directing the organization and establishment of a district Museum and Library to be known as the Kamaynilaan. By the Authority of Ordinance Nos. 4834 and 5428 dated November 6, 1963 and March 25, 1966 respectively, a three storey concrete building with mezzanine was erected to house the Main Library and Central Office of the Manila City Library.
In 1972, the Manila City Library was ordered to vacate the Kamaynilaan Building to give way to the Manila Action Center (later called the Manila Barangay Bureau). The main library transferred to Arsenio H. Lacson Public Library and the Central Office at Room 343 at the City Hall of Manila.
In 1993, seven branch libraries were closed due to a judicious move by the administration to enforce the policy of Quality not Quantity. But a favorable circumstance somehow compensated because it gave way to the construction of another public library the Valeriano E. Fugoso Library located at Arsenio H. Lacson corner Aragon Sts., in Sta. Cruz, Manila. This was constructed thru the Countrywide Development Fund of Congressman Leonardo B. Fugoso.
In 1994, an amount of P3.5 Million Pesos was allocated for the improvement and renovation of Manila Sacramento Friendship Library, Manila San Francisco Friendship Library, Kapitan Isidro Mendoza Public Library, Arsenio H. Lacson Public Library and Dapitan Public Library. Also, the Army and Navy Club Library was turned over to Manila City Library which was opened to the public. In the latter part of 1994, the construction of a second floor of the Sining Kayumanggi Building to house the Main Library and the Central Office started.
In mid September of 1996, a month away from the 50 th Founding the Anniversary of the Manila City Library , then Mayor Alfredo S. Lim gave the go signal to begin the relocation of the office at the new building. The Main Library building was inaugurated coincidental with the Golden Anniversary of the Manila City Library on October 28, 1996.
In 1997, through the efforts of the Manila City Library and the Bagong Buklod ng Pagkakaisa ng Bacood the burned Bacood Public Library was reconstructed. Fifteen years later, the Bacood Public Library together with other four library buildings, namely: Manila San Francisco Friendship Library, San Nicolas Public Library, Arsenio H. Lacson Public Library and the Kapitan Isidro Mendoza Public Library faced renovation.
On May 28, 2007, the Manila City Library transferred to its new site at the ground floor of Sining Kayumanggi Building. It was opened to the public on June 14, 2007.
PAST AND PRESENT SUPERINTENDENTS OF THE MANILA CITY LIBRARY:
- ISABEL DE SANTOS SEPT. 1, 1945-JUN. 30, 1954 — SUPERINTENDENT
- EDUARDO F. MALONES DEC. 16, 1954-JUN. 9, 1972 — SUPERINTENDENT
- FEDERICO J. GALANG JUN. 10, 1972-1973 — OFFICER-IN-CHARGE
- MARCIANO E. CONCEPCION 1973-1975 , 1980-1983 — OFFICER-IN-CHARGE
- ANGEL P. AGUIRRE, JR. NOV. 25, 1975-APR. 4, 1976 —OFFICER-IN-CHARGE
- GERONIMO FLORES July-Aug. 1980 — OFFICER-IN-CHARGE
- RAFAEL V. FERNANDEZ SEPT. 11, 1980-OCT. 1980 — OFFICER-IN-CHARGE
- FILEMON GECOLEA Aug. 5, 1983-NOV. 22, 1995 — CITY LIBRARIAN
- OLIVIA YOLANDA L. ALVAREZ NOV. 23, 1995-MAY 26, 1996 — OFFICER-IN-CHARGE
- ANGELINA C. VELASCO MAY 27, 1996-SEPT. 22, 1996 — OFFICER-IN-CHARGE
- OLIVIA YOLANDA L. ALVAREZ SEPT. 3, 1996-JAN. 16, 1996 — OFFICER-IN-CHARGE
- JAN. 17, 1997-DEC. 8, 1997 — CITY LIBRARIAN
- PAZ C. GAGOLINAN JAN. 26, 1998- JAN. 31, 2009 — CITY LIBRARIAN
- MA. GRACIA V. GARGANTIEL JAN. 2009-JULY 19, 2009 — OFFICER-IN-CHARGE
- HELEN GRACE S. CACHO JULY 20, 2009 — PRESENT CITY LIBRARIAN