The first library on East Lake opened at at 2916 East Lake Street in February of 1924. The little library, about the same size as the the Hosmer Community and Roosevelt branches, East Lake was one of thirteen branches established by Gratia Countryman, who served as the Chief Librarian for Minneapolis from 1904 to 1936. The building, designed by Jerome Paul Jackson, featured a utilitarian design, tall windows and a skylight. Jackson also designed the Minneapolis Public Library’s Walker and Seven Corners branches. By 1974 the East Lake Branch was circulating 121,459 items.
In 1976 the East Lake Library moved to a new 15,116 square feet building two blocks away. The second East Lake Branch circulated 30,000 volumes and contained a meeting room.The old building became a Montessori day care. A couple years later Scott Cramer began selling buttons and T-shirts at anti-nuke events. Cramer went on to establish Northern Sun Merchandising. In 1987 Northern Sun Merchandising purchased the building. The second East Lake was closed to make way for the third building in 2005.
The latest East Lake is modeled after Minneapolis’s Central Library. Designed by KKE Architects the shiny, new metal and glass library featuring a teen area, entrepreneurial knoll and fully automated checkout systems opened on March 10, 2007. The the original East Lake Library building was added to the National Register of Historic Places at the turn of the century. In 2004, 80 solar panels were installed on the roof. The original library shelves are still used by Northern Sun Merchandising.