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What Will You See on a Free Tour of Central Library?

Central Docents, Central Library,

The LAPL Docents invite you to a free tour of our magnificent library at 5th and Grand. We call it an Art & Architecture tour because you’ll see the unique blend of modern and classical architecture as envisioned by Bertram Goodhue, the classic sculpture of Lee Lawrie, the precisely painted ceilings of Julian Garnsey and glimpses of the many collections housed in this one library.

A docent will greet you in our lobby at the award-winning Library Store and you’ll view the “new” ceiling (from 1993) created by Rene Petropolis which incorporates graphic designs, the mysterious seven circles and, or course, a sun, one of the many symbols that reflect the library’s theme, “The Light of Learning”.

Follow your docent upstairs to what many call the “Aah” room, for what people first say when they see the striking chandelier, hand-painted ceiling and gorgeous pastel murals that decorate the beautiful 64-foot-high rotunda-style room.  Next up is what is now the Children’s Department, the only room that is most like those when the 1926 building was built. Here, you’ll view more murals of Spanish explorers, view the intriguing computer-designed carpet, and be amazed at all the services and spaces we provide for all children from toddlers to pre-teens, including the great KLOS-donated puppet theater.

The walkway between the Annenberg and Getty galleries and Teen’Scape, (the largest space of any public library dedicated to teenagers), is a compendium of the 1926 artists and architect and includes the powerful black marble sphinxes and majestic Statue of Civilization.

We actually have two buildings, the original Goodhue-designed one built in 1926, and the addition designed by Norman Pfeiffer completed in 1993. Named the Tom Bradley Wing for the former Los Angeles mayor, it has a dramatic atrium dominated by the colorful chandeliers of Thermon Statum, the sculptures of Ann Preston and a waterfall of escalators. This visual feast helps visitors understand the size and scope of this library: eight floors, four underground and four above ground, that covers 500,000 sq. ft., houses more than 2.5 million items, and is the crowning jewel of a 73-branch city library system.

Take a ride in the nearby elevators to enjoy the pun of David Bunn’s  “A Place for Everything and Everything in its Place”. See Dewey decimal card covered elevator cars (placed in alphabetical order) with the “comprehensive” or “complete” works. The pun is that a library is never complete.

Other tour highlights include the two-part exhibit from the book, “Songs in the Key of LA”, the original children’s department and its charming mural, our humungous genealogy and map collections and so much more to see! We’d love to show you Monday through Friday at 12; 30 p.m.; Saturdays at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. or Sundays at 2 p.m.

Central Fountains

And, those decorated steps on the Flower Street side? The clue to reading them is part of the fun of an Art in he Garden tour every Saturday at 12:30 p.m.

Can’t make these times? Not to worry; we schedule tours for adult and children’s groups. Contact us at or call (213) 228-7168. ALL TOURS ARE FREE.