The Cortez Branch Library is named in honor of Raoul A. Cortez (1904 – 1971), the pioneer of Spanish language radio and television stations in the United States. Cortez founded KCOR-AM, which in 1946 became the first full-time Spanish language radio station in the United States. In 1955, he established the television station known today as KWEX-TV, the country’s first Spanish language television station. Active in civic affairs, he served two terms as the national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and supported legal battles fighting discrimination against Mexican-Americans. An active member of the business community, he founded the Charro Association and was a member of the Mexican Chamber of Commerce.
The Raoul A. Cortez Branch Library opened in April 12, 1981 at a cost of $653,761, which was financed through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). The branch has since received several renovations and building improvements. In 1995, the branch acquired new lighting, paint, carpeting, handicap upgrades, and the installation of four new public access terminals funded through a 1989 bond.
In 2004, Guillermo Nicolas, grandson of Raoul A. Cortez, raised and donated money for interior and exterior improvement to the Cortez Branch. Mr. Nicolas organized a major landscaping project with 80 volunteers enlisted from partner KSTX public radio. The exterior of the building was transformed into a colorful xeriscape garden. In 2005, The San Antonio Library Foundation was awarded $50,000 through an AT&T grant to purchase new computers for the Cortez Branch.
In 2007, the branch received funds through a 2003 bond and the CDBG for the expansion of the meeting room, installation of new air conditioning, renovation of the lobby and restrooms, upgrades to the electrical and security system, and general facility repairs. Most recently, in 2009, the Cortez Branch received funds through a 2007 bond and the CDBG for the expansion of the lobby and other building upgrades.
- Square footage of the building: 9,834>
- Square footage of the meeting room: 1,260 (Call for availability)