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A Brief Van Nuys Branch Library History

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Library service in Van Nuys began in 1911 when the community was founded. In 1925 a bond issue was approved providing a Spanish-style library at 14555 Sylvan Street. That library was opened to the public in March 1927 and served the community until April 1964. In 37 years, the circulation grew from 27,000 to more than 350,000 volumes annually.

By 1957, the growth of the Van Nuys community and the heavy usage its residents made of the public library resulted in the formulation of plans to expand the building. A $6,400,000 Library Bond issue, including these plans, was approved by the voters. Great community interest in the library and in the development of the Van Nuys Civic Center merged into the idea for a new library building in the Civic Center. (Van Nuys boasted having the largest concentration of government workers in the San Fernando Valley).

Construction on the new Van Nuys Civic Center complex began in 1962. It included the County Administrative building, the County Health Department, the Van Nuys Police Administrative building, the County Court building with its branch of the county law library, the Van Nuys City Hall, the Federal Building and branch Post Office, and combined City/State Building.

The Van Nuys Branch Library was opened on May 11, 1964 as part of the 15th and final project in the San Fernando Valley under terms of the 1957 bond issue program. Twenty-eight projects were authorized in the bond issue and the Van Nuys Branch was the twenty-seventh to be completed.

In addition to housing one of the busiest branches in the Valley, this building was also headquarters for the Los Angeles Public Library's bookmobile service. These "libraries on wheels" brought books to the outlying sections of the San Fernando Valley where community libraries have not been established. The bookmobile service, known as the Traveling Branch, circulated almost 250,000 volumes annually.

The branch closed form March to October 1996 for renovation. All public space was renovated; the bookmobile was moved to another location and its headquarters was converted into a multi-purpose room; and the branch was upgraded with brand new air conditioning, carpeting, paint, circulation and reference desks and phone system. It was also made handicapped accessible.

In addition, the branch was converted into a “virtual electronic” library, with computer workstations that link the library to the electronic resources of the Central Library and a vast array of databases.

The renovation was funded by Proposition 1, the 1989 bond issue for branch libraries.

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

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