library history


The east lawn and the eastern exterior of Central Library
Guest Blogger, March 29, 2024

Sometimes it feels as though public libraries—free, government-supported, circulating libraries—have always been part of American life, but public libraries were rare before the last quarter of the nineteenth century.

Portrait of Commissioner Leontyne B. King
Christina Rice, March 20, 2024

At the Vernon - Leon H. Washington Jr. Memorial Branch Library, there is a wall in the meeting room adorned with four framed portraits. Two are paintings: one depicts writer Langston Hughes and is a gift from Miriam Matthews, the Los Angeles Public Library’s first Black librarian. The other is Leon H.

Vernon - Leon H. Washington Jr. Memorial Branch Library
Tiffney Sanford, February 13, 2024

The Vernon - Leon H. Washington Jr. Memorial Branch, located on Central Avenue at 45th Street, is one of the oldest branches in the Los Angeles Public Library system. There is an incredible amount of history that took place within a two-mile radius of the library.

Portrait of Mayor Richard J. Riordan in his office
Central Library Services, April 24, 2023

Richard J. Riordan, Mayor of Los Angeles from 1993-2001, for whom the rebuilt Central Library is named, passed away at his home in Brentwood on Wednesday, April 19, 2023, at the age of 92.

Art at the Jefferson - Vassie D. Wright Memorial Branch Library
Catherine Sturgeon, April 19, 2023

The Jefferson Branch Library originally opened as a deposit station between 1912 to 1913 in the Soffel Drug Store at 2100 West Jefferson Street.

Collage of selected libraries of Los Angeles and Tiffney Sanford
Nicholas Beyelia, March 22, 2023

Within the larger discipline of history, there is a field that has been gaining traction called public history.

Collage of photos from World War I
Charlene Nichols, February 13, 2023

Staff working at the library during World War I were living through interesting times. They made a lot of choices, some of which were commendable and others which left us scratching our heads.

Hamburger Building in 1909
Tiffney Sanford, December 14, 2022

Have you ever visited a library in the middle of a department store? If you lived in Los Angeles in the early twentieth century, you could have done just that. The Hamburger Building, designed by architect Alfred F. Rosenheim, opened at 8th Street and Broadway in August 1908.

Clockwise from top left, Frances Howard Goldwyn Hollywood Regional Branch Library at 1623 Ivar Avenue (1986-present): Hollywood Branch Library at 1623 Ivar Avenue (1940-1982); Hollywood Branch Library at 6357 Hollywood Boulevard (1923-1939); Hollywood Branch Library at 6357 Hollywood Boulevard (1907-1922). Los Angeles Public Library Institutional Collection
Tiffney Sanford, December 09, 2022

The growth of the Hollywood branch of the Los Angeles Public Library mirrors the development of Hollywood as a place. From sleepy beginnings, it grew quicker than expected, with highs and lows punctuated by dramatic events and interesting people.

Lincoln Heights Branch Library at 2530 Workman Street [2022] Photo by Tiffney Sanford
Tiffney Sanford, November 14, 2022

This is the sixth in a series of blog posts that looks at history near a Los Angeles Public Library branch.