Recently, I visited the central branch of the Los Angeles Public Library. It is located in Downtown Los Angeles at 630 W 5th St., and it was initially built in 1926. In addition to the Central Branch, there are 72 other branches of the Los Angeles Public Library system. Together, the branches have amassed a collection of over 6 million books, and it has served nearly 19 million people. The central branch has been expanded upon since its initial construction due to a fire that was the result of arson on April 29, 1986. Several renovations and maintenance projects have taken place as well.
When I visited the Los Angeles Public Library, I was able to take a tour of the building and its various wings, including its current circulation area, its original circulation area, its children’s section, and large stairway. Interestingly, each of these areas had distinct architecture that spoke to its historic origin. For example, like much of the architecture in Southern California, the original architecture contained many examples of Spanish Colonial Revival design styles, speaking to Los Angeles’s history as a Spanish history. This history was further recognized in the massive, four-part mural that covers the upper portion of all four walls in the old circulation area. The mural features several extremely romanticized versions of the stories of how Los Angeles was founded, including the Spanish meeting the Native Americans, the Industrial Revolution, etc. Other murals exist throughout the library, but have needed to be repaired following the 1986 fire, and some of the impacts are still present in the visible damage to art around the library.
Though it was enjoyable to visit the library, I will likely not return regularly to check out books because of its distance from home and that Long Beach has its own library system. Meanwhile, CSULB offers its own collection of books and databases that fulfill my needs more often than not.