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South entrance at Hope Street
|Location||630 West 5th Street |
Los Angeles, California
|Access and use|
|Director||John F. Szabo (Fall 2012)|
Los Angeles Central Library
|Location||630 W. 5th St., Los Angeles, California|
|Area||less than one acre|
|Architect||Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue|
|Architectural style||International Style, Mexican Late Baroque|
|NRHP reference No.||70000136|
|Added to NRHP||December 18, 1970|
|Designated LAHCM||March 1, 1967|
The Los Angeles Public Library system (LAPL) serves the residents of the City of Los Angeles. The system holds more than six million volumes, and with over 18 million residents in the Los Angeles Metropolitan area, it serves the largest population of any publicly funded library system in the United States. The system is overseen by a Board of Library Commissioners with five members appointed by the mayor of Los Angeles in staggered terms in accordance with the city charter.
Circulation and services
Library cards are free to California residents. Circulating books, zines, periodicals, computer access, and audiovisual materials are available to patrons. Books, magazines, and audiobooks are loaned for three weeks. Music cassettes, music CDs, documentary videos, and documentary DVDs are loaned for one week. Entertainment videos and entertainment DVDs are loaned for four days. Fines are charged only if materials are returned late. There is a loan limit of 10 books, 10 magazines, and 4 DVDs or videos at one time up to maximum of 30 items on the patron's record. Items checked out from Los Angeles Public Library may be returned to any of its 72 branches or to the Central Library. Most items may be renewed a maximum of two times. Entertainment DVDs and videos may be renewed one time.
The Los Angeles Public Library has many community support organizations which work with the library to raise funds and sponsor programs to enhance library service throughout the community. The Library's Rare Books Department is located in its downtown Los Angeles location. There is also an extensive selection of databases covering a wide variety of topics, many of which are available to remote users who hold an LAPL library card. Examples include full-text databases of periodicals, business directories, and language learning tools. The Central Library at 630 West 5th Street, between Grand Avenue and Flower Street in Downtown Los Angeles, remains an important research library, despite the development of accessible databases and public access to the Internet.
The library also offers an online program that allows adult patrons who have not completed high school to earn their high school diploma.
The Los Angeles Library Association was formed in late 1872, and by early 1873, a well-stocked reading room had opened under the first librarian, John Littlefield. Aggressive expansion and growth of the system began in the 1920s. Under Library Board of Commissioners Chairman Orra E. Monnette, the system was improved with a large network of branch libraries with new buildings. Thelma Jackman founded the Business & Economics section of the library sometime prior to 1970.
The original library consisted of two rooms. The larger room was called the “Book Room,” and the smaller room was called the “Conversation Room,” which contained newspapers, tables, chairs, and spittoons for the chess and checkers players who gathered there.
Women were not initially involved in the conception and development of the Los Angeles Library Association. Mrs. John Downey was given an honorary membership out of “courtesy,” but otherwise, no women were listed in the association’s founding documents, women were not represented on the board, and women were denied access to the library’s reading room. However, this changed in 1876 when the association decided to implement a “Ladies Room.” While this new room did not offer any books, it did provide a number of magazines and comfortable sofa and chairs for local clubwomen to use.
After Mary Foy was appointed as the first head woman librarian in 1880, her appointment was viewed as an act of charity by Mayor Toberman, who may have thought Foy to be in need of a job. Joanne Passet even postited that Foy’s nomination,and librarian nominations in general, were seen as “an honorable means of assisting needy men and women in the community.” This notion was mostly confirmed when Foy was replaced by Jessie Gavitt, whose economic need was deemed greater than Foy’s by the board.
There was further speculation as to why the board decided on appointing Foy as the first head woman librarian. It may have been a political choice since she represented values that flourished in women’s organizations, aiming to please the city’s powerful women’s clubs who may have been applying pressure. It’s also suggested that Foy’s nomination was a financial move; John Littlefield earned a salary of $100 while Mary Foy earned $75, which included janitorial work.
- 1873 to 1879: John Littlefield
- 1879 to 1880: Patrick Connolly
- 1880 to 1884: Mary Foy
- 1884 to 1889 : Jessie Gavitt
- 1889 to 1889: Lydia Prescott
- 1889 to 1895 : Tessa Kelso
- 1895 to 1897: Clara Bell Fowler
- 1897 to 1900: Harriet Child Wadleigh
- 1900 to 1905: Mary Letitia Jones
- 1905 to 1910: Charles Fletcher Lummis
- 1910 to 1911: Purd Wright
- 1911 to 1933: Everett Robbins Perry
- 1933 to 1947: Althea Warren
- 1947 to 1969: Harold Hamill
- 1969 to 1990: Wyman Jones
- 1990 to 1994: Elizabeth Martinez
- 1995 to 2004: Susan Goldberg Kent
- 2004 to 2008: Fontaine Holmes
- 2009 to 2012: Martin Gomez
- 2012 to present: John Szabo
Mary Jones, who was appointed Librarian in 1905, was fired by the library board in favour of Charles Fletcher Lummis. This provoked 'The Great Library War'. Women in Los Angeles petitioned and marched in support of Jones but she was finally forced out; she took up a position as head of the library at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania.
The historic Central Library Goodhue building was constructed in 1926 and is a Downtown Los Angeles landmark. The Central Library was designed by the architect, Bertram Goodhue. The Richard Riordan Central Library complex is the third largest public library in the United States in terms of book and periodical holdings. Originally named the Central Library, the building was first renamed in honor of the longtime president of the Board of Library Commissioners and President of the University of Southern California, Rufus B. von KleinSmid. The new wing of Central Library, completed in 1993, was named in honor of former mayor Tom Bradley. The complex (i.e., the original Goodhue building and the Bradley wing) was subsequently renamed in 2001 for former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, as the Richard Riordan Central Library.
The Los Angeles Public Library received the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation's highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to the community. City Librarian John F. Szabo and community member Sergio Sanchez accepted the award on behalf of the library from First Lady Michelle Obama during a White House Ceremony on May 20, 2015.
The Los Angeles Public Library was selected for its success in meeting the needs of Angelenos and providing a level of social, educational, and cultural services unmatched by any other public institution in the city. The award recognizes the library's programs that help people on their path to citizenship, earn their high school diploma, manage personal finances and access health and well-being services and resources.
Architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue designed the original Los Angeles Central Library with influences of ancient Egyptian and Mediterranean Revival architecture. The central tower is topped with a tiled mosaic pyramid with suns on the sides with a hand holding a torch representing the "Light of Learning" at the apex. Other elements include sphinxes, snakes, and celestial mosaics. It has sculptural elements by the preeminent American architectural sculptor Lee Lawrie, similar to the Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln, Nebraska, also designed by Goodhue. The interior of the library is decorated with various figures, statues, chandeliers, and grilles, notably a four-part mural by illustrator Dean Cornwell depicting stages of the History of California which was completed around 1933. The building is a designated Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Central Library was extensively renovated and expanded in a Modernist/Beaux-Arts architecture, according to Norman Pfeiffer, the principal architect of the renovation by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates from 1988 through 1993. It included an enormous, eight-story atrium wing dedicated to former mayor Tom Bradley. Now, the library contains an area of 538,000 square feet (50,000 m2), and has nearly 89 miles of shelves and seating for over 1,400 people.
The building's limited access had caused a number of problems. Generally, the accessible public stacks in the reading rooms only displayed about 10 to 20 percent of the actual collections of the Central Library. For anything else, a patron had to submit a request slip and a clerk would retrieve the desired material from the internal stacks. The internal stacks, contained in two concrete structures joined by a catwalk, were packed very tightly and had very little headroom. For example, while the normal reading rooms had ceilings of anywhere from 10 to 15 feet, the internal stack areas were many shelves of about six-foot height, stacked internally, so that while the public access area was about two floors plus the Science and Technology alcove, the internal stacks were approximately five or six floors. To fix this would have required substantial renovation, a cost the city was not willing to cover, especially after hours of operation were cut in response to the 1978 property tax reduction measure Proposition 13.
The catalyst for the renovation was a devastating arson fire that began in the stacks on April 29, 1986. Although the building was safely evacuated, its vintage construction precluded the ventilation of heat and smoke, and limited firefighter access. It took firefighters over seven hours to extinguish the fire and little fires continued to sprout for several days. Some 400,000 volumes—20 percent of the library's holdings—were destroyed, with significant water and smoke damage to 700,000 more. The estimated cost for replacing the 400,000 works lost was over $14 million. A second fire, on September 3 of the same year, destroyed the contents of the music department reading room.
As part of the rehabilitation plan, LAPL sold its air rights to developers, enabling the construction of the eponymous Library Tower across the street. The skyscraper was subsequently renamed the First Interstate World Center and later the U.S. Bank Tower. Additional funds were raised through corporate and personal contributions which flowed from the effort of the "Save the Books" campaign formed by Mayor Tom Bradley.
The campaign, co-chaired by Lodwrick Cook, then CEO of Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) had targeted a goal to raise $10 million through corporate and individual contributions ranging from schoolchildren's nickels and dimes to $50,000 contributions by Los Angeles businessman Marvin Davis and MCA Chairman Lew Wasserman. William Eugene "Gene" Scott, an LAPL neighbor and member of the 43 strong blue ribbon committee, donated the use of his University Network television studios and himself to what became a 48-hour telethon to raise $2 million towards the total objective.
The Library's renovation was completed in 1993. It included a large new underground parking facility, with a park designed by Lawrence Halprin over it. The Central Library reopened on October 3, 1993.
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection
The Central Library houses and archives the extensive Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection of over 3 million historic photographs from varied sources and collection acquisitions. Many images can be viewed by the public via the online photo collection. The physical Photo Collection is an important resource for researchers, writers, curators, and educators.
The Photo Collection's sources have included: the former Los Angeles Herald-Examiner newspaper photo morgue (2.2 million images); the Security Pacific Bank Collection (250,000); the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce image archives (60,000), Hollywood Citizen News/Valley Times Newspaper Collection (30,000), and the 'Turn of the century Los Angeles' collection (150,000).
Collection sources also include the portfolios by noted local and regional photographers, such as: the Ralph Morris Archives (25,000) of the Los Angeles area from 1939 to the late 1970s; a collection of 1940s L.A. images taken and donated by Ansel Adams, and the William Reagh Collection (40,000—800 online) of post-war Los Angeles to 1991.
Shades of L.A.
The "Shades of L.A. Collection" is an archive of more than 10,000 images donated/duplicated from family photo albums (collected by former Photo Collection director Carolyn Kozo Cole) that expanded the archives to include the many diverse ethnic histories of people in the city, beyond the already well represented 'Anglo' population.
The project's success expanded to the California State Library creating the "Shades of California" collection to represent the state's diverse communities, using the LAPL methods and model. The book "Shades of California: The Hidden Beauty of Ordinary Life" resulted from the successful statewide project. Over a dozen California city and county library districts also created local Shades of California collections, such as Monterey, Riverside, and Humboldt County.
Science, Technology & Patents Department
Located on Lower Level 2 of Central Library's Tom Bradley Wing, the Science, Technology & Patents Department's diverse collection covers agriculture, automobile repair, computers & computer science, cooking, construction (including building codes), consumer information, cosmetology, engineering, mathematics, medicine, nutrition, pets, psychiatry, UFOs, zoology, and more.
In partnership with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the Science, Technology & Patents Department is a United States Patent & Trademark Resource Center, offering resources to assist with patent and trademark research. The department holds a complete collection of all Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) publications including the complete Patent Gazette and Trademark Gazette issues from the opening of the PTO, and a complete set of registration books published by the United States Copyright Office starting from Volume 1. The patent collection also includes United Kingdom Old Law Patents 1617–1981 and United Kingdom New Law Applications 1979–1994.
Feathers map collection
In 2012 Glen Creason, the map librarian for the central library, was invited to the Mount Washington home of John Feathers, who had died at age 56 with no known relatives. According to Creason, the cottage contained approximately 100,000 maps and the library was delighted to accept their donation. "This dwarfs our collection," he said, "and we've been collecting for 100 years." The maps were stored on shelves, in boxes, in file cabinets, and even in the cabinet of an old stereo system with its electronics removed.
Creason said it could take a year to catalog and organize the maps and 600 feet (180 m) of shelving would be needed, but the library would then have the fifth-largest map collection in the country. The collection has been sorted and organized by volunteers C.J. Moon and Audrey Dalton.
|No.||Name||Photograph||Address||Zip Code||Phone||Area||Neighborhood Served||Notes|
|01||Benjamin Franklin||2200 E. First St.||90033-3902||323-263-6901||Northeast||Boyle Heights|
|02||Lincoln Heights||2530 Workman St.||90031-2322||323-226-1692||Northeast||Lincoln Heights|
|03||Pío Pico-Koreatown (피오 피코 코리아타운 도서관)||694 S. Oxford Ave.||90005-2872||213-368-7647||Hollywood||Koreatown|
|04||Vernon||4504 S. Central Ave.||90011-3632||323-234-9106||Central Southern||South Central|
|05||Arroyo Seco||6145 N. Figueroa St.||90042-3565||323-255-0537||Northeast||Highland Park/Garvanza||Regional Branch|
|06||Exposition Park||3900 S. Western Ave.||90062-1111||323-290-3113||Central Southern||Exposition Park||Regional Branch|
|07||Junipero Serra||4607 S. Main St.||90037-2735||323-234-1685||Central Southern||South Park|
|08||Echo Park||1410 W. Temple St.||90026-5605||213-250-7808||Northeast||Echo Park|
|09||San Pedro||931 S. Gaffey St.||90731-3606||310-548-7779||Central Southern||San Pedro||Regional Branch|
|10||Wilmington||1300 N. Avalon Blvd.||90744-2639||310-834-1082||Central Southern||Wilmington|
|11||Goldwyn Hollywood||1623 N. Ivar Ave.||90028-6304||323-856-8260||Hollywood||Hollywood||Regional Branch|
|12||John C. Fremont||6121 Melrose Ave.||90038-3501||323-962-3521||Hollywood||Hancock Park|
|13||Westchester-Loyola Village||7114 W. Manchester Ave.||90045-3509||310-348-1096||Western||Westchester|
|14||Vermont Square||1201 W. 48th St.||90037-2838||323-290-7405||Central Southern||Vermont Square|
|15||Pacific Palisades||861 Alma Real Dr.||90272-3730||310-459-2754||Western||Pacific Palisades|
|16||Donald Bruce Kaufman Brentwood||11820 San Vicente Blvd.||90049-5002||310-575-8273||Western||Brentwood|
|17||Jefferson-Vassie D. Wright||2211 W. Jefferson Blvd.||90018-3741||323-734-8573||Central Southern||Jefferson Park|
|18||Malabar||2801 Wabash Ave.||90033-2604||323-263-1497||Northeast||Boyle Heights|
|19||Robert Louis Stevenson||803 Spence St.||90023-1727||323-268-4710||Northeast||Boyle Heights|
|20||Cahuenga||4591 Santa Monica Blvd.||90029-1937||323-664-6418||Hollywood||East Hollywood|
|21||El Sereno||5226 S. Huntington Dr.||90032-1704||323-225-9201||Northeast||El Sereno|
|22||Palms-Rancho Park||2920 Overland Ave.||90064-4220||323-840-2142||Western||Palms & Rancho Park|
|23||Van Nuys||6250 Sylmar Ave.||91401-2707||818-756-8453||East Valley||Van Nuys||Closed for renovations until Summer 2020.|
|24||Canoga Park||20939 Sherman Way||91303-1744||818-887-0320||West Valley||Canoga Park|
|25||Studio City||12511 Moorpark St.||91604-1372||818-755-7873||East Valley||Studio City|
|26||Angeles Mesa||2700 W. 52nd St.||90043-1953||323-292-4328||Central Southern||Hyde Park/Leimert Park|
|27||West Los Angeles||11360 Santa Monica Blvd.||90025-3152||310-575-8323||Western||West Los Angeles||Regional Branch|
|28||Cypress Park||1150 Cypress Ave.||90065-1144||323-224-0039||Northeast||Cypress Park|
|29||Wilshire||149 N. St. Andrews Pl.||90004-4019||323-957-4550||Hollywood||Mid-Wilshire|
|30||Ascot||120 W. Florence Ave.||90003-1805||323-759-4817||Central Southern||Florence|
|31||Will & Ariel Durant||7140 W. Sunset Blvd.||90046-4416||323-876-2741||Hollywood||Hollywood|
|32||Eagle Rock||5027 Caspar Ave.||90041-1901||323-258-8078||Northeast||Eagle Rock|
|33||Hyde Park-Miriam Matthews||2205 W. Florence Ave.||90043-5101||323-750-7241||Western||Hyde Park|
|34||John Muir||1005 W. 64th St.||90044-3605||323-789-4800||Central Southern||Vermont-Slauson|
|35||Sunland-Tujunga||7771 Foothill Blvd.||91042-2137||818-352-4481||East Valley||Sunland & Tujunga|
|36||Los Feliz||1874 Hillhurst Ave.||90027-4427||323-913-4710||Hollywood||Los Feliz|
|37||North Hollywood Amelia Earhart||5211 Tujunga Ave.||91601-3119||818-766-7185||East Valley||North Hollywood||Regional Branch|
|38||Mar Vista||12006 Venice Blvd.||90066-3810||310-390-3454||Western||Mar Vista|
|39||Panorama City||14345 Roscoe Blvd.||91402-4222||818-894-4071||East Valley||Panorama City|
|40||Venice-Abbot Kinney||501 S. Venice Blvd.||90291-4201||310-821-1769||Western||Venice|
|41||Washington Irving||4117 W. Washington Blvd.||90018-1053||323-734-6303||Hollywood||Arlington Heights/Mid-City|
|42||Robertson Branch Library||1719 S. Robertson Blvd.||90035-4315||310-840-2147||Western||Beverlywood/Cheviot Hills/Pico-Robertson||Closed Saturday and open Sunday due to widespread observation of Shabbat in this neighborhood|
|43||Alma Reaves Woods-Watts||10205 Compton Ave.||90002-2804||323-789-2850||Central Southern||Watts|
|44||Atwater Village||3379 Glendale Blvd.||90039-1825||323-664-1353||Hollywood||Atwater Village|
|45||Mark Twain||9621 S. Figueroa St.||90003-3928||323-755-4088||Central Southern||Vermont Vista|
|46||Baldwin Hills||2906 S. La Brea Ave.||90016-3902||323-733-1196||Western||Baldwin Hills|
|47||Encino-Tarzana||18231 Ventura Blvd.||91356-3630||818-343-1983||West Valley||Encino & Tarzana|
|48||Felipe de Neve||2820 W. 6th St.||90057-3114||213-384-7676||Hollywood||Westlake|
|49||Memorial||4625 W. Olympic||90019-1832||323-938-2732||Hollywood||Country Club Park|
|50||West Valley||19036 Vanowen St.||91335-5114||818-345-9806||West Valley||Reseda||Regional Branch|
|51||Sherman Oaks||14245 Moorpark St.||91423-2722||818-205-9716||East Valley||Sherman Oaks|
|52||Sun Valley||7935 Vineland Ave.||91352-4477||818-764-1338||East Valley||Sun Valley|
|53||Pacoima||13605 Van Nuys Blvd.||91331-3613||818-899-5203||East Valley||Pacoima|
|54||Sylmar||14561 Polk St.||91342-4055||818-367-6102||East Valley||Sylmar|
|55||Playa Vista||6400 Playa Vista Dr.||90094-2168||310-437-6680||Western||Playa Vista|
|56||Granada Hills||10640 Petit Ave.||91344-6452||818-368-5687||West Valley||Granada Hills|
|57||Valley Plaza||12311 Vanowen St.||91605-5624||818-765-9251||East Valley||Valley Glen/North Hollywood||Formerly known as Vanowen Park Branch|
|58||Woodland Hills||22200 Ventura Blvd.||91364-1517||818-226-0017||West Valley||Woodland Hills|
|59||Northridge||9051 Darby Ave.||91325-2743||818-886-3640||West Valley||Northridge|
|60||Chatsworth||21052 Devonshire St.||91311-2314||818-341-4276||West Valley||Chatsworth|
|61||Fairfax||161 S. Gardner St.||90036-2717||323-936-6191||Hollywood||Fairfax|
|62||Lake View Terrace||12002 Osborne St.||91342-7221||818-890-7404||East Valley||Lake View Terrace|
|63||Chinatown||639 N. Hill St.||90012-2317||213-620-0925||Northeast||Chinatown|
|64||Little Tokyo||203 S. Los Angeles St.||90012-3704||213-612-0525||Northeast||Little Tokyo|
|65||Platt||23600 Victory Blvd.||91367-1349||818-340-9386||West Valley||West Hills|
|66||Mid-Valley Regional||16244 Nordhoff St.||91343-3806||818-895-3650||West Valley||North Hills||Regional Branch|
|67||Porter Ranch||11371 Tampa Ave.||91326-1729||818-360-5706||West Valley||Porter Ranch|
|68||Harbor City-Harbor Gateway||24000 S. Western Ave.||90710-1741||310-534-9520||Central Southern||Harbor City & Harbor Gateway|
|69||Edendale||2011 W. Sunset Blvd.||90026-3122||213-207-3000||Northeast||Echo Park|
|70||Pico-Union||1030 S. Alvarado St.||90006-3712||213-368-7545||Hollywood||Pico-Union|
|71||Westwood||1246 Glendon Ave.||90024-4914||310-474-1739||Western||Westwood|
|72||Silver Lake||2411 Glendale Blvd.||90039-3217||323-913-7451||Northeast||Silver Lake|
- List of Registered Historic Places in Los Angeles
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