The conception of the Kanawha County Public Library came about in July 1908, when the Woman's Kanawha Literary Club appointed a committee to organize action in support of a public library for Charleston, West Virginia. Their plans became a reality when on June 3, 1909, the Charleston Public Library opened under the direction of Miss Mabel Delle Jones, Librarian, with 1,200 volumes. The Library was housed in the YMCA building at Capitol and Washington streets.
In the early years of its existence, the Library's quarters were changed frequently. The first move occurred in the summer of 1912 when the YMCA needed space to accommodate its own expanding services. Rent-free rooms were provided by the First Presbyterian Church on Quarrier Street and the Library moved into the former residence of their pastor. On May 15, 1913 the Library was moved to the lower floor of the YMCA building on Virginia Street, just east of McFarland and began paying rent. On September 3, 1914, other quarters were found on the corner of Kanawha and McFarland Streets and again the Library moved. The Library remained here until March 1921, when it moved to the Red Cross building on the levee near Capitol Street.
In May 1926 the Library moved to its first permanent home, the former Capitol Annex Building which stood on Lee Street between Hale and Dickinson. Purchase of the building for $400,000 was made possible by a gift of $100,000 by Colonel Albert E. Humphreys, which inspired other contributions.