Posted by: bluesyemre | June 20, 2018

Los Angeles Central Library: The Story of an L.A. Icon


The Los Angeles Public Library is a behemoth system with 72 branches spread across the city. Its crown jewel and headquarters is the Richard J. Riordan Central Library, situated between the hotels and sky-high office buildings of Downtown L.A. Built in 1926, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. The eight-story building is the third largest central library in the U.S. and houses more than ten million items, from popular fiction titles to rare genealogical publications, historic photographs and U.S. patents.

“We’re kind of a hybrid between a public library and a research library,” says Joyce Cooper, a principal librarian who manages outreach and programming for the Central Library. The 90-year-old institution is also part-museum and part-event space, a home for unusual collections and a host for regular cultural performances and educational talks. More importantly, though, it’s the city’s phoenix. Like the mythical creature, the Central Library emerged full of life from the aftermath of a devastating fire.

In 1986, the Central Library was hit by two separate fires – both arson cases – set apart by a handful of months. The amount of damage was massive, but locals did their part to help resurrect the venerable space. “The fire was a horrible thing, but, at the same time, it ended up being one of the saving graces for us,” says Cooper. “People really rallied around the library and people realized how much they loved it and wanted to save it.”

Today, the Central Library merges old and new L.A. with the original building flowing into the Tom Bradley Wing, which opened in 1993 and is named after the city’s mayor during this reconstruction period.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: