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100 Years of the County of Los Angeles Public Library

In September 2012, the County of Los Angeles celebrated our 100th birthday.
Check out facts about the library along with historic photos.

1912 - 1929  |  1930-1949  |  1950-1969  |  1970-1989  |  1990-2012  |  1912-2012: All Facts

  • 1912 - September 5, 1912 - The County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors established a "free public library," made possible in part by James L. Gillis, the State Librarian, who had previously secured the passing of the state's County Free Library act in 1911. .
  • 1912 - The first County Librarian was appointed: Miss Celia Gleason. (1913-1924). During the first five years, Miss Gleason established a total of 165 branch libraries!
  • 1912 - The Headquarters for the Library was opened in a small room on the 10th floor of the Hall of Records, in downtown Los Angeles.
  • 1913 - The first branch of the County Free Library was established on April 23, 1913 in one room of Mrs. Belle Jenks' home in Willowbrook, with a collection of fifty books.
  • 1914 - In 1914, a Teachers' Library was established at Library Headquarters open to all members of the teaching profession. It was maintained until 1957.

  • 1915 - The trustees of sixty elementary school districts passed a resolution to contract with the County Library for supplementary book service. (On June 30, 1937, the Library carried 85 contracts with elementary school districts, most of which had joined the library in the early years).
  • 1916 - Although Civil Service was established by the County Charter, and adopted in 1913, it was not applied to the Library Department until January 1916.

  • 1917 - These were the years of War Camp Libraries. Miss Jones and Miss Vogelson were assigned to help organize the work at the Camp Kearney Library near San Diego.
  • 1921 - Library Headquarters moved to 204 North Broadway, the old Zahn Building, which was named the Hall of Records Annex. This move doubled the Library's floor space.
  • 1923 - First community library opened in a County-owned building (Lancaster).
  • 1924 - Miss Helen Vogelson was appointed County Librarian (1924-1946).
  • 1924 - The Book Order Division, a department that purchased books for the library, was established.

  • 1926 - A large silk "Flag of the United States" with cord and tassel, mounted on a standard, was provided for each branch library except for those located in schools where a flag was already provided.
  • 1927 - By the end of the Library's first 15 years on June 30, 1927, population served had more than quadrupled from the 1912 figure of 100,000 to 410,000; circulation had reached 1,701,088 and the book collection had been built to 258,914 volumes. Registered borrowers numbered 91,945 and 166 branches and outlets were operated.
  • 1927 - Miss Claire Nolte was appointed the first Children's Librarian.
  • 1928 - The Claremont Branch was moved to a beautiful library building erected by the City on a lot donated by Mrs. Helen Renwick, a local resident.
  • 1929 - First Regional Service Started - a significant development, which pointed the way of the future, occurred in 1929 with the establishment of a regional operation in the Antelope Valley with the Lancaster branch the headquarters for 23 small outlets in an area of more than 900 square miles.

1912 - 1929  |  1930-1949  |  1950-1969  |  1970-1989  |  1990-2012  |  1912-2012: All Facts