Los Angeles Public Library

The Los Angeles Public Library system (LAPL) is a public library system in Los Angeles, California. The system holds more than six million volumes,[3] and with around 19 million residents in the Greater Los Angeles area, it serves the largest metropolitan population of any public library system in the United States.[4] The system is overseen by a Board of Library Commissioners with five members appointed by the mayor of Los Angeles in staggered terms, and operates 72 library branches throughout the city.[5] In 1997 a local historian described it as "one of the biggest and best-regarded library systems in the nation."[6] It is not to be confused with the LA County Library system which operates several library branches across certain areas of Los Angeles County.

Los Angeles Public Library
South entrance of the Richard J. Riordan Central Library at Hope Street
LocationHeadquarters: 630 West 5th Street
Los Angeles, California, United States
Established1872; 152 years ago (1872)
Access and use
Circulation18 million (2008)
Population served
4,030,904 (city)

18,783,638 (metro)

Other information
DirectorJohn F. Szabo (Fall 2012)
References: [1][2]


The Downey Block, 1880s

The Los Angeles Library Association was formed in late 1872, and by early 1873, a well-stocked reading room had opened in the Downey Block at Temple and Main streets under the first librarian, John Littlefield.[7][8]Los Angeles Public Library is a library with 6 million works located in Los Angeles, United States of America. The library was founded in 1872 and serves in 72 departments. Approximately 1000 people work in the library. The library was last renovated in 1993.

The original library consisted of two rooms. The larger room was called the "Book Room," and the smaller room was called the "Conversation Room," which contained newspapers, tables, chairs, and spittoons for the chess and checkers players who gathered there.[9]

Women were not initially involved in the conception and development of the Los Angeles Library Association. First Lady of California Maria Downey was given an honorary membership out of "courtesy," but otherwise, no women were listed in the association's founding documents, women were not represented on the board, and women were denied access to the library's reading room. However, this changed in 1876 when the association decided to implement a "Ladies Room." While this new room did not offer any books, it did provide a number of magazines and comfortable sofa and chairs for local clubwomen to use.[9]

After Mary Foy was appointed as the first head woman librarian in 1880, her appointment was viewed as an act of charity by Mayor Toberman, who may have thought Foy to be in need of a job. Joanne Passet even posited that Foy's nomination, and librarian nominations in general, were seen as "an honorable means of assisting needy men and women in the community." This notion was mostly confirmed when Foy was replaced by Jessie Gavitt, whose economic need was deemed greater than Foy's by the board.[9] Following Foy's appointment, the LAPL would go on to be "headed by a series of women administrators" for the next 25 years. These administrators included, Mary E. Foy (1880–1884), Jessie Gavitt (1884–1889), Lydia Prescott (1889), Tessa Kelso (1889–1895), Clara Fowler (1895–1897), Harriet Child Wadleigh (1897–1900), and Mary L. Jones (1900–1905).[10]

There was further speculation as to why the board decided on appointing Foy as the first head woman librarian. It may have been a political choice since she represented values that flourished in women's organizations, aiming to please the city's powerful women's clubs who may have been applying pressure. It's also suggested that Foy's nomination was a financial move; John Littlefield earned a salary of $100 while Mary Foy earned $75, which included janitorial work.[9]

Tessa Kelso was appointed head librarian in 1889. She abolished the membership fee, increased membership from 100 to 20,000, increased the collection from 12,000 to 300,000 volumes, moved the books to open shelves, and permitted children to use the library. She set up an early system of branch libraries and moved the central library in to City Hall. She was forced out after a controversy over the library's acquisition of Jean Richepin's book La Cadet, which was considered indecent at the time.[7]

Mary Jones, who was appointed Librarian in 1905, was fired by the library board in favor of Charles Fletcher Lummis. The only reason given for this was that the library should be run by a man, not a woman. This provoked "The Great Library War". Women in Los Angeles petitioned and marched in support of Jones but she was finally forced out; she took up a position as head of the library at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania.[11][12] Lummis established several special collections, including photography, autographs, and California and Spanish history. He oversaw two moves into larger buildings, and he greatly increased use of the library through several outreach programs.[7]

c. 1914, the collection numbered 203,600.[13] The central library was located in the "Hamburger Building at Eighth and Broadway" with plans to soon move to the "Metropolitan Building at Fifth and Broadway."[13] The library had 22 branch "reading rooms" including two (San Pedro and Hollywood) housed in Carnegie library buildings.[13] The library had a total of 41 "branches and distribution points" at that time, and cooperated with the "playground department" to offer "branch libraries" at "the Violet Street, Slauson, Hazard, and Echo Park playgrounds, and at the Recreation Center."[13]

Aggressive expansion and growth of the system began in the 1920s. The first building dedicated exclusively for library use opened in 1926.[7]

City librarians

Mary Foy
Tessa Kelso
Charles F. Lummis
  • 1873–1879: John Littlefield
  • 1879–1880: Patrick Connolly
  • 1880–1884: Mary Foy
  • 1884–1889: Jessie Gavitt
  • 1889–1889: Lydia Prescott
  • 1889–1895: Tessa Kelso
  • 1895–1897: Clara Bell Fowler
  • 1897–1900: Harriet Child Wadleigh
  • 1900–1905: Mary Letitia Jones
  • 1905–1910: Charles Fletcher Lummis
  • 1910–1911: Purd Wright
  • 1911–1933: Everett Robbins Perry
  • 1933–1947: Althea Warren
  • 1947–1969: Harold Hamill
  • 1969–1990: Wyman Jones
  • 1990–1994: Elizabeth Martinez
  • 1995–2004: Susan Goldberg Kent
  • 2004–2008: Fontayne Holmes
  • 2009–2012: Martin Gomez
  • 2012–present: John Szabo[7]

Central Library

Los Angeles Central Library at Flower Street

The Central Library Goodhue building was constructed in 1926 and is a Downtown Los Angeles landmark.[14] It was designed by architect Bertram Goodhue.[15] This was his last work, because the man died suddenly in 1924.[16] The Richard Riordan Central Library complex is the third largest public library in the United States in terms of book and periodical holdings. Originally named the Central Library, the building was first renamed in honor of the longtime president of the Board of Library Commissioners and President of the University of Southern California, Rufus B. von KleinSmid. The new wing of Central Library, completed in 1993, was named in honor of former mayor Tom Bradley.[17] The complex (i.e., the original Goodhue building and the Bradley wing) was subsequently renamed in 2001 for former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, as the Richard Riordan Central Library. The building was burned out by a catastrophic fire in 1986 when a million books and many other records (patents, play scripts, photographs) were damaged or totally destroyed. Arson was suspected but never proved.[18]



Besides the Central Library in downtown Los Angeles, the system operates 72 branch locations in the city's neighborhoods. Eight of the larger branches are designated "regional branches."

No. Name Photograph Address Zip Code Phone Area Neighborhood Served Notes
01 Benjamin Franklin 2200 E. First St. 90033-3902 323-263-6901 Northeast Boyle Heights
02 Lincoln Heights   2530 Workman St. 90031-2322 323-226-1692 Northeast Lincoln Heights
03 Pío Pico-Koreatown (피오 피코 코리아타운 도서관)   694 S. Oxford Ave. 90005-2872 213-368-7647 Hollywood Koreatown
04 Vernon 4504 S. Central Ave. 90011-3632 323-234-9106 Central Southern South Central
05 Arroyo Seco 6145 N. Figueroa St. 90042-3565 323-255-0537 Northeast Highland Park/Garvanza Regional Branch
06 Exposition Park   3900 S. Western Ave. 90062-1111 323-290-3113 Central Southern Exposition Park Regional Branch
07 Junipero Serra 4607 S. Main St. 90037-2735 323-234-1685 Central Southern South Park
08 Echo Park 1410 W. Temple St. 90026-5605 213-250-7808 Northeast Echo Park
09 San Pedro 931 S. Gaffey St. 90731-3606 310-548-7779 Central Southern San Pedro Regional Branch
10 Wilmington   1300 N. Avalon Blvd. 90744-2639 310-834-1082 Central Southern Wilmington
11 Goldwyn Hollywood 1623 Ivar Ave. 90028-6304 323-856-8260 Hollywood Hollywood Regional Branch
12 John C. Fremont 6121 Melrose Ave. 90038-3501 323-962-3521 Hollywood Hancock Park
13 Westchester-Loyola Village   7114 W. Manchester Ave. 90045-3509 310-348-1096 Western Westchester
14 Vermont Square   1201 W. 48th St. 90037-2838 323-290-7405 Central Southern Vermont Square
15 Pacific Palisades   861 Alma Real Dr. 90272-3730 310-459-2754 Western Pacific Palisades
16 Donald Bruce Kaufman Brentwood   11820 San Vicente Blvd. 90049-5002 310-575-8273 Western Brentwood
17 Jefferson-Vassie D. Wright   2211 W. Jefferson Blvd. 90018-3741 323-734-8573 Central Southern Jefferson Park
18 Malabar   2801 Wabash Ave. 90033-2604 323-263-1497 Northeast Boyle Heights
19 Robert Louis Stevenson   803 Spence St. 90023-1727 323-268-4710 Northeast Boyle Heights
20 Cahuenga   4591 Santa Monica Blvd. 90029-1937 323-664-6418 Hollywood East Hollywood
21 El Sereno 5226 S. Huntington Dr. 90032-1704 323-225-9201 Northeast El Sereno
22 Palms-Rancho Park   2920 Overland Ave. 90064-4220 323-840-2142 Western Palms & Rancho Park
23 Van Nuys   6250 Sylmar Ave. 91401-2707 818-756-8453 East Valley Van Nuys
24 Canoga Park 20939 Sherman Way 91303-1744 818-887-0320 West Valley Canoga Park
25 Studio City 12511 Moorpark St. 91604-1372 818-755-7873 East Valley Studio City
26 Angeles Mesa   2700 W. 52nd St. 90043-1953 323-292-4328 Central Southern Hyde Park/Leimert Park
27 West Los Angeles   11360 Santa Monica Blvd. 90025-3152 310-575-8323 Western West Los Angeles Regional Branch
28 Cypress Park   1150 Cypress Ave. 90065-1144 323-224-0039 Northeast Cypress Park
29 Wilshire   149 N. St. Andrews Pl. 90004-4019 323-957-4550 Hollywood Mid-Wilshire
30 Ascot   120 W. Florence Ave. 90003-1805 323-759-4817 Central Southern Florence
31 Will & Ariel Durant 7140 W. Sunset Blvd. 90046-4416 323-876-2741 Hollywood Hollywood
32 Eagle Rock 5027 Caspar Ave. 90041-1901 323-258-8078 Northeast Eagle Rock Article on the former building
33 Hyde Park-Miriam Matthews   2205 W. Florence Ave. 90043-5101 323-750-7241 Western Hyde Park
34 John Muir   1005 W. 64th St. 90044-3605 323-789-4800 Central Southern Vermont-Slauson
35 Sunland-Tujunga 7771 Foothill Blvd. 91042-2137 818-352-4481 East Valley Sunland & Tujunga
36 Los Feliz 1874 Hillhurst Ave. 90027-4427 323-913-4710 Hollywood Los Feliz The library computer room is named after actor Leonardo DiCaprios whose childhood home was located on the site, DiCaprios family foundation sponsored the computer equipment.[19][20][21]
37 North Hollywood Amelia Earhart   5211 Tujunga Ave. 91601-3119 818-766-7185 East Valley North Hollywood Regional Branch
38 Mar Vista   12006 Venice Blvd. 90066-3810 310-390-3454 Western Mar Vista
39 Panorama City   14345 Roscoe Blvd. 91402-4222 818-894-4071 East Valley Panorama City
40 Venice-Abbot Kinney   501 S. Venice Blvd. 90291-4201 310-821-1769 Western Venice
41 Washington Irving   4117 W. Washington Blvd. 90018-1053 323-734-6303 Hollywood Arlington Heights/Mid-City
42 Robertson Branch Library 1719 S. Robertson Blvd. 90035-4315 310-840-2147 Western Beverlywood/Cheviot Hills/Pico-Robertson Closed Saturday and open Sunday due to widespread observation of Shabbat in this neighborhood
43 Alma Reaves Woods-Watts 10205 Compton Ave. 90002-2804 323-789-2850 Central Southern Watts
44 Atwater Village 3379 Glendale Blvd. 90039-1825 323-664-1353 Hollywood Atwater Village
45 Mark Twain 9621 S. Figueroa St. 90003-3928 323-755-4088 Central Southern Vermont Vista
46 Baldwin Hills   2906 S. La Brea Ave. 90016-3902 323-733-1196 Western Baldwin Hills
47 Encino-Tarzana   18231 Ventura Blvd. 91356-3630 818-343-1983 West Valley Encino & Tarzana
48 Felipe de Neve   2820 W. 6th St. 90057-3114 213-384-7676 Hollywood Westlake
49 Memorial   4625 W. Olympic 90019-1832 323-938-2732 Hollywood Country Club Park
50 West Valley   19036 Vanowen St. 91335-5114 818-345-9806 West Valley Reseda Regional Branch
51 Sherman Oaks 14245 Moorpark St. 91423-2722 818-205-9716 East Valley Sherman Oaks
52 Sun Valley   7935 Vineland Ave. 91352-4477 818-764-1338 East Valley Sun Valley
53 Pacoima   13605 Van Nuys Blvd. 91331-3613 818-899-5203 East Valley Pacoima
54 Sylmar 14561 Polk St. 91342-4055 818-367-6102 East Valley Sylmar
55 Playa Vista   6400 Playa Vista Dr. 90094-2168 310-437-6680 Western Playa Vista
56 Granada Hills 10640 Petit Ave. 91344-6452 818-368-5687 West Valley Granada Hills
57 Valley Plaza 12311 Vanowen St. 91605-5624 818-765-9251 East Valley Valley Glen/North Hollywood Formerly known as Vanowen Park Branch
58 Woodland Hills 22200 Ventura Blvd. 91364-1517 818-226-0017 West Valley Woodland Hills
59 Northridge 9051 Darby Ave. 91325-2743 818-886-3640 West Valley Northridge
60 Chatsworth 21052 Devonshire St. 91311-2314 818-341-4276 West Valley Chatsworth
61 Fairfax   161 S. Gardner St. 90036-2717 323-936-6191 Hollywood Fairfax
62 Lake View Terrace   12002 Osborne St. 91342-7221 818-890-7404 East Valley Lake View Terrace
63 Chinatown   639 N. Hill St. 90012-2317 213-620-0925 Northeast Chinatown
64 Little Tokyo   203 S. Los Angeles St. 90012-3704 213-612-0525 Northeast Little Tokyo
65 Platt 23600 Victory Blvd. 91367-1349 818-340-9386 West Valley West Hills
66 Mid-Valley Regional 16244 Nordhoff St. 91343-3806 818-895-3650 West Valley North Hills Regional Branch
67 Porter Ranch 11371 Tampa Ave. 91326-1729 818-360-5706 West Valley Porter Ranch
68 Harbor City-Harbor Gateway 24000 S. Western Ave. 90710-1741 310-534-9520 Central Southern Harbor City & Harbor Gateway
69 Edendale 2011 W. Sunset Blvd. 90026-3122 213-207-3000 Northeast Echo Park
70 Pico-Union   1030 S. Alvarado St. 90006-3712 213-368-7545 Hollywood Pico-Union
71 Westwood   1246 Glendon Ave. 90024-4914 310-474-1739 Western Westwood
72 Silver Lake   2411 Glendale Blvd. 90039-3217 323-913-7451 Northeast Silver Lake  

High school diploma


The library offers an online program that allows adult patrons who have not completed high school to earn their high school diploma.[22]

Special services


TESSA is Los Angeles Public Library online historical collections. TESSA is named after Tessa Kelso, Los Angeles City Librarian from 1889 to 1895.[23]

In 2023, the library issued a limited-edition library card featuring the mountain lion P-22 in a National Geographic photo with the Hollywood Sign in the background.[24]


"Parasol Library in Pershing Square" c. 1938, photographed for the Federal Writers' Project

The Los Angeles Public Library received the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation's highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to the community.[25] City Librarian John F. Szabo and community member Sergio Sanchez accepted the award on behalf of the library from First Lady Michelle Obama during a White House Ceremony on May 20, 2015.

The Los Angeles Public Library was selected for its success in meeting the needs of Angelenos and providing a level of social, educational, and cultural services unmatched by any other public institution in the city. The award recognizes the library's programs that help people on their path to citizenship, earn their high school diploma, manage personal finances and access health and well-being services and resources.[26]

See also



  1. ^ Martin Gomez (February 2010). "City Librarian's Report to Friends Groups". Los Angeles Public Library. Archived from the original (.PPS) on June 20, 2010. Retrieved May 10, 2022.
  2. ^ "Los Angeles Library Foundation - Annual Report 2008-2009". Library Foundation of Los Angeles. 2009. Archived from the original on November 25, 2010. Retrieved March 26, 2010.
  3. ^ "Los Angeles Public Library Facts 2013 (for fiscal year 2012-13) | Los Angeles Public Library". www.lapl.org. Retrieved March 6, 2016.
  4. ^ Szabo, John (2015). "LAPL Strategic Plan 2015-2020" (PDF). Retrieved March 6, 2016.
  5. ^ "Board of Library Commissioners | Los Angeles Public Library". www.lapl.org. Retrieved March 6, 2016.
  6. ^ Pitt, Leonard; Pitt, Dale (1997). Los Angeles A to Z: An Encyclopedia of the City and County. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press. p. 300>. ISBN 0-520-20274-0.
  7. ^ a b c d e Orlean, Susan (2018a). The Library Book. London: Atlantic Books. pp. 125, 129, 132, 139–143, 173, 174, 198, 203, 307. ISBN 978-1-78239-225-5. OCLC 1084749272.
  8. ^ Soter, Bernadette Dominique (1993). The light of learning: an illustrated history of the Los Angeles Public Library. Los Angeles: Library Foundation of Los Angeles. pp. 19–20.
  9. ^ a b c d Debra Gold Hansen; Karen F. Gracy; Sheri D. Irvin (1999). "At the Pleasure of the Board: Women Librarians and the Los Angeles Public Library, 1880–1905". Libraries & Culture. 34 (4, Fall 1999). University of Texas Press: 311–346. JSTOR 25548763.
  10. ^ Hansen, D.G.; Gracy, K.F.; Irvin, S.D. (1999). "At the pleasure of the Board: women librarians and the Los Angeles Public Library, 1880–1905". Libraries & Culture. 34 (4): 311–346.
  11. ^ Orlean 2018a, pp. 132, 139–143.
  12. ^ Beyelia, Nicholas (March 21, 2018). "The Great Library War of 1905, Part 1: Have you met Miss Jones?". Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) blog. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  13. ^ a b c d Standard Guide to Los Angeles, San Diego, and the Panama-California Exposition. Press Association. 1914.
  14. ^ "EARLY HISTORY, DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION OF THE GOODHUE BUILDING | Los Angeles Public Library". www.lapl.org. Retrieved March 7, 2016.
  15. ^ Orlean 2018b, p. 3.
  16. ^ "Центральна бібліотека Лос-Анджелеса — унікальний храм знань - la-future.com". February 6, 2023. Retrieved March 10, 2023.
  17. ^ "TOM BRADLEY WING: HISTORY AND DESIGN | Los Angeles Public Library". www.lapl.org. Retrieved March 7, 2016.
  18. ^ Orlean, Susan (2018b). The Library Book. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-1-4767-4018-8.
  19. ^ "Check It Out: How the Los Feliz Library Came to Be". Los Feliz Improvement Association. April 13, 2024. Retrieved May 22, 2024.
  20. ^ https://www.losfeliz.com/friends/Oct_2009_FOLFL_newsletter.pdf Friends of the Los Feliz Library Newsletter, October 2009
  21. ^ "THE LEO LIBRARY". Peoplemag. Retrieved May 22, 2024.
  22. ^ Toppo, Greg (June 2, 2014). "Libraries' choice: Change or fade into oblivion". USA Today. Retrieved March 28, 2016.
  23. ^ "About". tessa.lapl.org. Retrieved February 19, 2023.
  24. ^ Von Quednow, Cindy; Riesmeyer, Andy (February 23, 2023). "Los Angeles Public Library releases limited-edition library card honoring P-22". KTLA. Retrieved February 24, 2023.
  25. ^ "Los Angeles Public Library wins top award for cultural institutions". latimes.com. Retrieved March 7, 2016.
  26. ^ "National Medal for Museum and Library Service | Los Angeles Public Library". www.lapl.org. Retrieved October 26, 2015.