Valencia Park Branch Library at 101 50th Street was dedicated on April 15, 1961 and opened to the public on April 17, 1961. The small 4,106 square foot facility had 13 parking spaces, cost $95,321 and was designed by architect George Hatch. Over the years the building deteriorated and attempts were made to close the facility. However, the Valencia Park Community and Branch Librarian Marguerite Farmer fought to keep the doors open and in 1987 the library underwent renovations.
In 1988 the relocation of Valencia Park Library began when Catherine Montgomery recommended that the Emerald Hills Neighborhood Council (EHNC) request the City of the San Diego to purchase a vacant site at 51st and Market for a larger library. The City responded that funds were not available.
The movement continued. In 1989 Catherine Montgomery, EHNC library Chair, and Lillie Pollard, EHNC Vice-chair, made presentations to the Library Commission and City Officials. By 1990, residents from Emerald Hills, Valencia Park and surrounding communities were again requesting a new library for their area. Fourth District Councilman Wes Pratt agreed to request Community Development block Grant Funds to purchase the land and enable the City to meet the 35% matching requirement to apply for State Library Construction and Renovation Bond Fund (Prop 85). In 1991 the Friends of Valencia Park Library was reactivated and hosted a 30th anniversary celebration. The State application was submitted in February 1991. Land was purchased, planning continued, and the dream for a new Library was being realized.
The news was exciting and motivating. In 1990, 1991, and 1992 focus meetingswere held for additional input from the residents and their children. They wanted a larger facility (20,000 sq. feet) with a resource center, homework rooms, computers, a wider selection of books, community meeting rooms, and a fun place for little children. Requests were made for a large multi-purpose room for telecommunications, conferences, public forums, and small performances. The Library Committee continued to meet with the architect, library and engineering staff, and City Officials.
On December 19, 1991, the State Board approved a grant for $2,966,943 for a 20,000 sq. foot library in the Fourth District. Subsequently, newly elected Councilman George Stevens obtained an additional 6,000 sq. feet and the building grew to 26,000 sq. feet, among the largest in the city.
The residents of the fourth district wanted to name the Valencia Park Branch Library so it was decided to have a library naming contest. In 1991, children of the residents of the Fourth District renamed the Valencia Park Library to the Malcolm X Library and Performing Arts Center, Valencia Park Branch, making the Valencia Park Branch Library in San Diego, the only public Library in the United States named after Malcolm X.