Harare City Library has been in existence for well over a hundred years, though under different names and in different places. A Reading and Recreation Society started a collection of books and newspapers in the early years of colonization and by 1893 it had developed into a small public subscription library. It had become known as the Salisbury Public Library by 1896, and in 1898 a library committee had been appointed by the Salisbury Town Council, as it was then. The original Queen Victoria Memorial building, housing both a library and a museum, was opened in Moffat Street (now Leopold Takawira Street) on 28 February 1903 by Lady Eveline Milton, the wife of the Administrator. [See picture.] It had been constructed at a cost of �9,000 with money raised from public subscriptions, and books were donated by Lord Grey and the City of London. However, the building was apparently not well suited to function as a library and was demolished in 1963 to make way for a new school hall at the Girls' High School next door. Separate buildings were provided for the museum and library, and the present building, then known as the Queen Victoria Memorial Library, was opened in 1962. The architects received a bronze medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in recognition of its outstanding and innovative design. The Harare City Library building is therefore of architectural and aesthetic importance to the City of Harare, and in due course will be eligible to become a protected building in accordance with the Museums and Monuments Act. The land, building and other assets are vested in the Board of the Harare City Library Trust under the Harare City Library Act [Chapter 25:05], which came into force on 2 June 1961, replacing the Queen Victoria Memorial Act, 1951 (No. 38 of 1951).
British Ambassador Deborah Bronnert today handed over to the Harare City Library Board, $20,000 from a fundraising dinner held at her Residence in March 2012 and library books valued at $1500 from the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Fund in order to help renovate the library to benefit ordinary Zimbabweans.
The government of Sweden is providing US$1 million for the resuscitation of the Harare City Library in a project being managed by the Culture Fund of Zimbabwe Trust. The money would be used for renovating the infrastructure at the Harare City Library building.
Mrs Maitirwa Mukonoweshuro, Cde Callisto Jokonya, Dr Thokozile Chitepo and Swedish Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Lars Ronnas admiring one of the library books during the Golden Jubilee celebrations.