First appearing on an 1816 map of Philadelphia, Haddington was named for the country town of Haddingtonshire in England. The village of Haddington, centered around 62nd Street above Arch Street, consisted of a dozen houses and a coach stop inn called the Whitesides.
By 1865, passengers could take the West Philadelphia Passenger Railway, which traveled out down Haverford Avenue to 54th Street, then south to Vine, then west to 66th Street before returning to the depot. With the opening of the Market Elevated line in 1907, small shopping districts developed along Market Street. The shopping district around the 60th Street El stop, bounded by Market and Chestnut Streets, and by 60th and 61st Streets, was later designated as the Haddington Historic District and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Haddington Branch of the Free Library opened on December 3, 1915. Albert Kelsey, an architect who chaired the committee to develop the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, designed the building. Haddington was the 18th library building erected using funds from Andrew Carnegie. Land for the library was donated by Alex Simpson, Jr.
The Old Academy Bell, which was a school bell at the "Yellow School House," a block away from the library, still sits in the main reading room. A mural inside the branch recreates the outside courtyard and depicts neighborhood children at play.
The library was renovated in 2001 as part of the "Changing Lives" campaign, which brought Internet service to every branch.