Arbutus Library began in 1948 when local residents such as George Klein, Beatrice Williams and Elsie Ijams, discussed starting a local library with members of the Kiwanis Club and local business people. A library was created in the basement of the Arbutus Hardware store at 5417 East Drive. The Kiwanis gave $300; and a new floor was donated. A large table and 10 chairs were also acquired. Alberta Klein, George's wife, obtained more than 400 books from friends and local residents. Mrs. Williams and Mrs. Ijams would drive around picking up the donations. Each book was officially stamped by George and Alberta. Frances Herrmann, one of their 14 children, recalled "I remember Mother and Dad, late at night, stamping the book pages. I believe they stamped each book on page 17 and another page that I don't remember." This was done for sentimental reasons, as seventeen was the age that her mother married her father. On February 16, 1948, there were about 1500 books with more than 400 new children's books. 150 library cards were originally issued. Mrs. Williams and Mrs. Ijams devoted much time and energy to this project. They could always be found in the library greeting people and helping them to select a book.
The Arbutus-Halethorpe Free Library was such a great success that in the early 1950's it needed to move into larger quarters over the A&P supermarket, when it became a part of the Baltimore County Public Library system. Gloria Grikit, who retired as clerical supervisor in 1989, fondly recalled days over the A&P when she and the librarian found time to make slipcovers right in the library. In 1962 the library moved into a more modern building on Sulphur Spring Road, where it remained for 30 years.
As the community grew and changed so did the library and in 1992 it moved yet again into the Arbutus Business Center. This new building added space and made the library completely handicapped accessible. Throughout all these changes the Arbutus branch has remained a library with a small-town, friendly atmosphere.