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Library History
Octavia Fellin Public Library, Gallup, NM

Mission Statement


The Octavia Fellin Public Library’s mission is to enable the people of our diverse community to obtain information, resources and education through a full range of services and programs.




In January 1920, the P.E.O. Sorority donated fifty books for placement in the Gallup Community House.  At each club meeting after, members contributed a dime for children’s books. In 1922, a tea was held and the 68 guests brought 168 books and $9.50 in cash.  When the Library reached 2,000 volumes it was moved to a larger space at which time other local organizations started to make monthly contributions to buy books


In 1926 Gallup City Council appropriated $500.00 to the library and paid a local woman $10 a month to keep the library open from 3:00-5:30 three days a week. In September 1929, the Council appropriated $1,500.00 towards a library building and $1000 was donated by local residents.  The building was erected on the site of the old city jail, and stones from the building were used in the library structure.  The formal opening of the new building was held April 27, 1927. On May 29, 1936 the City Council voted to assume responsibility for the library.


In 1947, while visiting family in Gallup, Octavia Fellin volunteered at the library for a proposed 2 months, after which she intended to go to California, where a position with the San Francisco Public Library was waiting for her. Those 2 months turned into a 43 year career and the library was eventually named after her upon her retirement in 1990. Ms. Fellin passed away earlier this year but is still remembered fondly by every avid reader raised in Gallup.


In 1949, the library started a campaign to secure a new building. The old building was woefully inadequate, for example, the library only had an outhouse. The City Council issued a $65,000 bond for library. The new library was opened to the public December 22, 1951 and the building was expanded in 1976.  Due to overwhelming need, the City of Gallup purchased and remodeled a building approximately one block down the street where the Children’s Branch is now located.  In 2013 the City Council funded a library building feasibility study in order to assess current building problems and possible sites for a new state of the art building.


The library is now a city department and the library director is a member of the city’s management team. City of Gallup funds the library and all county residents, the Navajo Nation and the Zuni Pueblo receive services for free. Contiguous county residents and those living in Arizona pay a nominal fee. The Octavia Fellin Library is the only public library for McKinley County and the Southeast District of the Navajo Nation.  Not believing a library should ever be limited by the economic condition of its region, the library seeks out partnerships and grant opportunities, always striving to meet and exceed the needs of patrons.  The library is the crossroads of the community, bringing together people, information, and ideas.