Los Angeles Public Library Circa 1921

Researching some potentially spooky stuff about Los Angeles on google books, I found this interesting old and thus public domain book called the Libraries of Los Angeles and Vicinity which talks about the Los Angeles Public Library (although it didn’t have a hyperlink back then natch). Around when the book was written, the library occupied floors 7 through 10 at the Metropolitan Building on Broadway and 5th. The books talks about the LAPL’s vast Californian and Latin-American literature collection as well as it’s extensive genealogy and pre-1855 journeys through California. I am planning on spending some time at the Library with my mom this week, I’ll see if I can find some interesting old works about traveling through California in the 19th century. The book also mentions a two million dollar bond that was just approved for the Library’s future headquarters, which I am guessing is its current location.

3 thoughts on “Los Angeles Public Library Circa 1921”

  1. The current Central Library was built in 1927, so it took them about 6 years to find a location and construct the “Temple to Knowledge.”

    What an interesting book you found. It’s interesting to see that the Library in 1921 had over twice as many distribution locations as the system does now, even though the population of the City has grown from 576,673 in 1920 to 4 million today.

  2. Nerd, is that number of distribution points just the L.A. City Public Library or all the vicinity public libraries as well? I’d guess that the L.A. County Library system would at least double the number of branches. Not to mention the assorted indie libraries (Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, etc.)

  3. OK, I actually LOOKED at the book. The key difference is that most of the old locations are “deposit stations” something which don’t exist today (there are, by far, many more full-fledged branches now).

    A deposit station is essentially a very small collection of books housed in some public place (although the book indicates some were actually in private homes!) with a rotating collection of books for lending. Interestingly, a number of contemporary library systems still employ deposit stations, as a quick google search on deposit station library will reveal. And in the past they accounted for a large fraction of the library’s lending. But given the contemporary practices of library patrons, I think that the L.A. City public library system is better serving its clientele with its much larger collection of branches.

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