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A Brief Eagle Rock Branch Library History

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Branch PhotoIn April of 1911, Eagle Rock voters decided to incorporate as an independent city and in early 1914 a group of citizens organized to secure a library for the community. Previously Anna Swan had maintained a small County Library in her dry goods store on Colorado Boulevard.

W.L. Miller began to publish articles in The Sentinel advocating that Eagle Rock should have a Carnegie library. He also went to the 20th Century Club and the PTA for help in organizing this effort. The first library board consisted of five citizens who applied to the Carnegie Corporation for funds. Carnegie authorities had apparently never heard of Eagle Rock, but through the pressure of these citizens who stressed the future growth of the community, the request was granted.

The selection of a site for the new library followed one of the most intensive ballot battles ever undertaken in the community. Three sites were considered and finally the site at Colorado and Rockland won by 84 out of a total of 809 votes cast. The building was designed by local artist Conrad Buff and construction was immediately begun. The Eagle Rock Library was formally opened on April 1, 1915 with Blanche Gardiner as its first librarian.

In addition to hundreds of donated books, the County continued to supply books for six months after the opening. The Library Board then chose to withdraw from County sponsorship and become independent. Subsequently the book collection grew rapidly and circulation increased from about 1,800 to 18,000 by 1941 when Mrs. Gardiner retired.

In 1923 Eagle Rock was annexed by the city of Los Angeles and the library became a branch of the Los Angeles Public Library. In 1927 a new, larger building replaced the original Carnegie library which had become inadequate in space and equipment. This new building was opened on July 25, 1928.

In February, 1971, along with much of Los Angeles, the Library suffered structural damage making it unsafe for continued use. Given the potential cost of repairs as well as the need for more space, parking, and handicapped access, a new library was deemed to be the best solution. The current building on Caspar Avenue opened in 1981, with dedication ceremonies held on October 3. The old building on the original site on Colorado Boulevard was fully renovated and is now the Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock.

Source: LeClere, Dr. Mary. Story of the Old Carnegie: Eagle Rock gets its library. Eagle Rock Valley Historical Society.

Photographs from the Los Angeles Public Library Security Pacific National Bank Historic Photograph Collection.

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