Los Angeles Public Library

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Los Angeles Public Library
South entrance at Hope Street
Country United States
Type Public
Established 1872
Location 630 West 5th Street
Los Angeles, California
Coordinates Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Branches 72
Size 6,393,429
Access and use
Circulation 18 million
Population served
3,844,829 (city)

18,783,638 (metro)

Other information
Budget US$134,630,543
Director John F. Szabo (Fall 2012)
Staff 828
Website www.lapl.org
References: [1][2]

The Los Angeles Public Library system (LAPL) serves the residents of the City of Los Angeles. With more than six million volumes, it is one of the largest publicly funded library systems in the world. The system is overseen by a Board of Library Commissioners with five members appointed by the mayor of Los Angeles.


Library cards are free to California residents. Circulating books, periodicals, computer access and audiovisual materials are available to patrons. Library materials are loaned for 3 weeks. 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.


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.

Central Library

Cornerstone of original building, laid in 1925
Los Angeles Central Library at Flower Street

The historic Central Library Goodhue building was constructed in 1926 and is a Downtown Los Angeles landmark. 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 Services, 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.[3]


A portion of the four-part mural by illustrator Dean Cornwell depicted the stages of the history of California at the Los Angeles Central Library.

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.[4] 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.[5]

Access needs

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. Internal stacks were packed very tightly and had very little headroom. For example, while the normal reading rooms had ceilings of anywhere from ten to fifteen 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.

Arson catalyst
Plaque honoring those fighting the arson fire of 1986

The catalyst for the renovation was the devastating arson fire of April 29, 1986. Although the building was safely evacuated, its vintage construction precluded the ventilation of heat and smoke, and limited firefighter access. Some 400,000 volumes—20 percent of the library's holdings—were destroyed, with significant water and smoke damage done to the surviving works. 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.[6] 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.[7][8] The physical Photo Collection is an important resource for researchers, writers, curators, and educators.[9]


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,[10] 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,[11] and the William Reagh Collection (40,000—800 online) of post-war Los Angeles to 1991.[12]

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.[9] The book "Shades of California: The Hidden Beauty of Ordinary Life" resulted from the successful statewide project.[13] Over a dozen California city and county library districts also created local Shades of California collections, such as Monterey, Riverside, and Humboldt County.[14]

Science, Technology & Patents Department

The Science, Technology & Patents Department has an extremely diversified collection, on Lower Level 2 of the building's Tom Bradley Wing. It includes 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. It also included a complete set of the entire registration books published by the United States Copyright Office starting from Volume 1. These collections also received 1986 fire damage, and were restored and again accessible when the Central Library reopened.[15]

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 "at least a million 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.[16]


Besides the Central Library in downtown Los Angeles, the system also operates 72 branch locations in the city's many neighborhoods:

No. Name Photograph Address Zip Code Phone District Neighborhood Served Notes
01 Benjamin Franklin 2200 E. First St. 90033-3902 323-263-6901 Northeast Area
02 Lincoln Heights Lincoln Heights Branch Library, Los Angeles.JPG 2530 Workman St. 90031-2322 323-226-1692 Northeast Area Lincoln Heights
03 Pío Pico-Koreatown (피오 피코 코리아타운 도서관) Pio Pico Koreatown Branch Library, Los Angeles.jpg 694 S. Oxford Ave. 90005-2872 213-368-7647 Hollywood Area Koreatown
04 Vernon 4504 S. Central Ave. 90011-3632 323-234-9106 Central Southern Area
05 Arroyo Seco 6145 N. Figueroa St. 90042-3565 323-255-0537 Northeast Area Regional Branch
06 Exposition Park Lapl-branch-exposition-park.JPG 3900 S. Western Ave. 90062-1111 323-290-3113 Central Southern Area Regional Branch
07 Junipero Serra 4607 S. Main St. 90037-2735 323-234-1685 Central Southern Area
08 Echo Park 1410 W. Temple St. 90026-5605 213-250-7808 Northeast Area Echo Park
09 San Pedro 931 S. Gaffey St. 90731-3606 310-548-7779 Central Southern Area San Pedro Regional Branch
10 Wilmington 1300 N. Avalon Blvd. 90744-2639 310-834-1082 Central Southern Area Wilmington
11 Goldwyn Hollywood 1623 N. Ivar Ave. 90028-6304 323-856-8260 Hollywood Area Hollywood
12 John C. Fremont 6121 Melrose Ave. 90038-3501 323-962-3521 Hollywood Area Hancock Park
13 Westchester-Loyola Village Wiki5982165395 d684e636f3 o.jpg 7114 W. Manchester Ave. 90045-3509 310-348-1096 Western Area Westchester
14 Vermont Square Vermont Square Branch Library, Los Angeles.JPG 1201 W. 48th St. 90037-2838 323-290-7405 Central Southern Area Vermont Square
15 Pacific Palisades Pacific Palisades Branch, Los Angeles Public Library.jpg 861 Alma Real Dr. 90272-3730 310-459-2754 Western Area Pacific Palisades
16 Donald Bruce Kaufman Brentwood 11820 San Vicente Blvd. 90049-5002 310-575-8273 Western Area Brentwood
17 Jefferson-Vassie D. Wright Jefferson Branch Library, Los Angeles.JPG 2211 W. Jefferson Blvd. 90018-3741 323-734-8573 Central Southern Area
18 Malabar Malabar Branch Library, Boyle Heights.JPG 2801 Wabash Ave. 90033-2604 323-263-1497 Northeast Area
19 Robert Louis Stevenson Robert Louis Stevenson Branch Library, Los Angeles.JPG 803 Spence St. 90023-1727 323-268-4710 Northeast Area
20 Cahuenga Cahuenga branch los angeles public library.jpg 4591 Santa Monica Blvd. 90029-1937 323-664-6418 Hollywood Area East Hollywood
21 El Sereno 5226 S. Huntington Dr. 90032-1704 323-225-9201 Northeast Area El Sereno
22 Palms-Rancho Park Palms-Rancho Park Branch Library.jpg 2920 Overland Ave. 90064-4220 323-840-2142 Western Area Palms & Rancho Park
23 Van Nuys 6250 Sylmar Ave. 91401-2707 818-756-8453 East Valley Area Van Nuys
24 Canoga Park 20939 Sherman Way 91303-1744 818-887-0320 West Valley Area Canoga Park
25 Studio City 12511 Moorpark St. 91604-1372 818-755-7873 East Valley Area Studio City
26 Angeles Mesa Angeles Mesa Branch Library, Los Angeles.JPG 2700 W. 52nd St. 90043-1953 323-292-4328 Central Southern Area
27 West Los Angeles 11360 Santa Monica Blvd. 90025-3152 310-575-8323 Western Area West Los Angeles Regional Branch
28 Cypress Park 100x100px 1150 Cypress Ave. 90065-1144 323-224-0039 Northeast Area Cypress Park
29 Wilshire Wilshire Branch, Los Angeles Public Library.JPG 149 N. St. Andrews Pl. 90004-4019 323-957-4550 Hollywood Area Mid-Wilshire
30 Ascot 120 W. Florence Ave. 90003-1805 323-759-4817 Central Southern Area
31 Will & Ariel Durant 7140 W. Sunset Blvd. 90046-4416 323-876-2741 Hollywood
32 Eagle Rock 5027 Caspar Ave. 90041-1901 323-258-8078 Northeast Area Eagle Rock
33 Hyde Park-Miriam Matthews 2205 W. Florence Ave. 90043-5101 323-750-7241 Western Area Hyde Park
34 John Muir John Muir Branch Library, Los Angeles.JPG 1005 W. 64th St. 90044-3605 323-789-4800 Central Southern Area
35 Sunland-Tujunga 7771 Foothill Blvd. 91042-2137 818-352-4481 East Valley Area Sunland & Tujunga
36 Los Feliz 1874 Hillhurst Ave. 90027-4427 323-913-4710 Hollywood Area Los Feliz
37 North Hollywood Amelia Earhart 5211 Tujunga Ave. 91601-3119 818-766-7185 East Valley Area North Hollywood Regional Branch
38 Mar Vista 12006 Venice Blvd. 90066-3810 310-390-3454 Western Area Mar Vista
39 Panorama City 14345 Roscoe Blvd. 91402-4222 818-894-4071 East Valley Area Panorama City
40 Venice-Abbot Kinney 501 S. Venice Blvd. 90291-4201 310-821-1769 Western Area Venice
41 Washington Irving Washington Irving Branch Library.jpg 4117 W. Washington Blvd. 90018-1053 323-734-6303 Hollywood Area
42 Robertson Branch Library 1719 S. Robertson Blvd. 90035-4315 310-840-2147 Western Area 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 Area Watts
44 Atwater Village 3379 Glendale Blvd. 90039-1825 323-664-1353 Hollywood Area Atwater Village
45 Mark Twain 9621 S. Figueroa St. 90003-3928 323-755-4088 Central Southern Area
46 Baldwin Hills 2906 S. La Brea Ave. 90016-3902 323-733-1196 Western Area Baldwin Hills
47 Encino-Tarzana Encino-Tarzana Branch, Los Angeles Public Library.JPG 18231 Ventura Blvd. 91356-3630 818-343-1983 West Valley Area Encino & Tarzana
48 Felipe de Neve Felipe de Neve Branch, Los Angeles.JPG 2820 W. 6th St. 90057-3114 213-384-7676 Hollywood Area Westlake
49 Memorial Memorial Branch Library, Los Angeles.JPG 4625 W. Olympic 90019-1832 323-938-2732 Hollywood Area
50 West Valley West Valley Regional Branch Library, Reseda, CA.JPG 19036 Vanowen St. 91335-5114 818-345-9806 West Valley Area Reseda Regional Branch
51 Sherman Oaks 14245 Moorpark St. 91423-2722 818-205-9716 East Valley Area Sherman Oaks
52 Sun Valley 7935 Vineland Ave. 91352-4477 818-764-1338 East Valley Area Sun Valley
53 Pacoima 13605 Van Nuys Blvd. 91331-3613 818-899-5203 East Valley Area Pacoima
54 Sylmar 14561 Polk St. 91342-4055 818-367-6102 East Valley Area Sylmar
55 Playa Vista 6400 Playa Vista Dr. 90094-2168 310-437-6680 Western Area Playa Vista
56 Granada Hills 10640 Petit Ave. 91344-6452 818-368-5687 West Valley Area Granada Hills
57 Valley Plaza 12311 Vanowen St. 91605-5624 818-765-9251 East Valley Area Formerly known as Vanowen Park Branch
58 Woodland Hills 22200 Ventura Blvd. 91364-1517 818-226-0017 West Valley Area Woodland Hills
59 Northridge 9051 Darby Ave. 91325-2743 818-886-3640 West Valley Area Northridge
60 Chatsworth 21052 Devonshire St. 91311-2314 818-341-4276 West Valley Area Chatsworth
61 Fairfax 100x100px 161 S. Gardner St. 90036-2717 323-936-6191 Hollywood Area Fairfax District
62 Lake View Terrace 100x100px 12002 Osborne St. 91342-7221 818-890-7404 East Valley Area Lake View Terrace
63 Chinatown Chinatown Lib.jpg 639 N. Hill St. 90012-2317 213-620-0925 Northeast Area Chinatown
64 Little Tokyo 11-11-06-Vibiana-LittleTokyoBranch.jpg 203 S. Los Angeles St. 90012-3704 213-612-0525 Northeast Area Little Tokyo
65 Platt 23600 Victory Blvd. 91367-1349 818-340-9386 West Valley Area
66 Mid-Valley Regionalv 16244 Nordhoff St. 91343-3806 818-895-3650 West Valley Area Regional Branch
67 Porter Ranch 11371 Tampa Ave. 91326-1729 818-360-5706 West Valley Area 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 Area Echo Park
70 Pico-Union 100x100px 1030 S. Alvarado St. 90006-3712 213-368-7545 Hollywood Area Pico-Union
71 Westwood Westwood Branch Library.JPG 1246 Glendon Ave. 90024-4914 310-474-1739 Western Area Westwood
72 Silver Lake Silver Lake Branch, Los Angeles Public Library.jpg 2411 Glendale Blvd. 90039-3217 323-913-7451 Northeast Area Silver Lake  

See also


  1. Martin Gomez (February 2010). "City Librarian's Report to Friends Groups" (.PPS). Los Angeles Public Library. Retrieved March 26, 2010. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Los Angeles Library Foundation - Annual Report 2008-2009". Library Foundation of Los Angeles. 2009. Retrieved March 26, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "National Medal for Museum and Library Service | Los Angeles Public Library". www.lapl.org. Retrieved October 26, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Fuentes, Ed. "Central Library Murals Are Also 80 Years Old". KCET. Retrieved May 10, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "About the Central Library". Los Angeles Public Library. Los Angeles Public Library. Retrieved May 25, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Myers, David W. (June 21, 1987). "L.A. Tower to Be Tallest on Coast : Ground Breaking Due Tuesday for 73-Story Downtown Building". Los Angeles Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "'Photograph Collection Overview' (online photos)". Los Angeles Public Library. 2011. Retrieved May 27, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Wikimedia Commons — Category: Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection — Wikimedia category for images from the LAPL Photo Collection.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Bancroft Library — Shades of California . accessed March 30, 2012.
  10. LAPL Photo Collection Sources
  11. LAPL newsroom release: "Images of 1940s Los Angeles Donated by Adams to the Library Include Many Lost Icons" (Images Available) . Retrieved December 2, 2012
  12. Community Arts Partnership—William Reagh Los Angeles Photography Center.
  13. "Shades of California: The Hidden Beauty of Ordinary Life"; Edited by Kimi Kodani Hill; Heyday Books; ISBN 978-1-890771-44-7 ; accessed March 30, 2012.
  14. Bancroft Library — Shades of California city and county collections links (bottom of webpage) . accessed March 30, 2012.
  15. Los Angeles Public Library
  16. Bob Pool. "Saved from Dumpster: Amazing map collection makes librarians tingle". Los Angeles Times date=2012-10-19. line feed character in |newspaper= at position 18 (help); Missing pipe in: |newspaper= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links