The Houston Lyceum opened its doors in 1904, thanks to the philanthropic efforts of two insightful women’s groups, The Ladies’ Reading Club and The Woman’s Club of Houston, who requested and received a $50,000 grant from Andrew Carnegie. Both historical groups are still in existence and continue their support of library programs. In 1921, the Lyceum was renamed the Houston Public Library. Houston’s first librarian, Julia Ideson, was the champion of adding a second library building in 1926, which is named in her honor.
The Houston Library Board continued Miss Ideson’s legacy. This volunteer group nurtured a growing endowment and raised additional funds to support the library’s most essential programs. In 2007, the Houston Library Board transformed into the Houston Public Library Foundation, Inc. a federally recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. This prompted a merger between Friends of the Houston Public Library and the Houston Public Library Foundation, because both organizations shared common goals.
In 2016, the Houston Public Library Foundation launched a legacy society to commemorate the indomitable will of our esteemed visionary leaders. The Julia Ideson Society honors library patrons who provide for the continued support of the public library system through planned giving.