The Arleta Library, designed by noted Portland architect Folger Johnson in 1915, opened to the public in 1919.
It was one of seven libraries in Multnomah County funded by a Carnegie grant, in accordance with his belief that libraries added to the meritocratic nature of America, and that anyone with the right inclination and desire, especially immigrants, could educate themselves.
To earn the grant, the community had to purchase the site, commit an annual amount equal to 10% of the original construction cost for operation, and offer free service for all.
The building served as a library for 53 years, even offering a twice-weekly well baby clinic in the 1930’s
After the library closed in 1972, Multnomah County purchased the building, and it served as the home for the Department of Community Justice and Community Action Agency until 2011, with programming for juvenile justice and anti-poverty.
During that time, following the death of Community Action Agency chair-person Lea Wikman in 1982, the building was renamed The Wikman Building in her honor.
Lea Wikman (born: Virpi) was a Finnish immigrant, who moved to Oregon in 1953 and became a well-known advocate for children and poor people.
The Wikman Building is the first government building in the state of Oregon to be named after a woman.