Echo Park Branch Library was established in the early 1900s as a depository for discarded books in the old Echo Park playground clubhouse. By 1908, the branch's first librarian was appointed and the facility was opened one afternoon and one evening each week.
LAPL sought quarters of its own in 1925 when plans for a new park clubhouse began to take form. A small storefront at 1811 Temple Street was rented in April of that year, and the Library occupied it until the new Echo Park Branch facility opened its doors at 520 Glendale Boulevard in 1928.
Crowds of children attended the opening of the new facility, which was the thirteenth LAPL branch facility to be erected from a 1925 $500,000 bond fund. Circulation was high during the first year of operation. Neighborhood patrons borrowed over 104,000 books, and this pace continued until 1936, when depression budgets took their toll on staffing and new book acquisitions.
In 1971 the facility sustained major damage during the Sylmar earthquake and was declared unsafe for occupancy by the Bureau of Public Buildings. The library relocated to its temporary site at 515 N. Laveta Terrace, where staff conducted a very successful community outreach program to the local Latino population between 1989 and 1992. Called Partnerships for Change, Libraries for Everyone, the program resulted in a 78% increase in library usage, and greatly expanded recognition of the library within the general Echo Park community.
In 1988, an LAPL Branch Facilities Plan proposed obtaining a site for a new building, and funds were made possible by the passage of Proposition #1, the 1989 Library Bond Issue. The Board of Library Commissioners approved acquisition of property at 1410 West Temple Street in 1991, and ground was broken for the new facility on September 24, 1994.
The new 17,543 square-foot Echo Park Branch Library building has a multi- purpose room, bookstore, two separate reading areas with raised bench seating for children and young adults, and a gallery wall to showcase local artists' works. A large parking area has been included, and there is access for the disabled.
Originally designed by Lang / Lampert Architects and managed by the City Architect, the Echo Park Branch contains the electronic capacity to utilize state-of-the- art library technology, including LAPL's new automated circulation system and computerized catalog, which provides information about books available within the Los Angeles Public Library system. Designated an LAPL "Virtual Electronic Library," the Echo Park Branch will provide public access to the Internet and various ESL programs. The Branch has continued to receive support for these programs from its major donor, the Whitecap Foundation.
Alejandro de la Loza created the public art component for the project, a large relief fashioned from sandstone and bronze, which depicts the celebration of life and represents the cultural diversity of the city. This 15' by 20' piece hangs over the interior doorway to the branch, and reflects the colors used in the building itself.
Photographs from the Los Angeles Public Library/Security Pacific National Bank Historic Photograph Collection.