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  • Central Library History

    The Pasadena Central Library opened its doors at its current location in 1927. The Mediterranean-style building was designed by the firm of Myron Hunt and H.C. Chambers, the architects of the Huntington Library and Occidental College. The building was expanded in the mid-1960s to include a children's story room and two reference wings. In the mid-1980s, a new entrance on the north was constructed as well as two additional floors for circulating books, funded by local, state and federal money. Historically sensitive interior restoration was undertaken in the late 1980s. This was funded with $3.4 million in private contributions raised by the Pasadena Public Library Foundation. The Central Library emerged with the newly renovated and restored Donald R. Wright Auditorium, a climate-controlled special collections Pasadena Centennial Room, the Ria C. Lee Humanities Wing, the Community Bank Business Room, the Ida Lloyd Crotty Genealogy Room, and the Ernestine C. Avery Children's Wing, complete with a fully functional and expanded storyroom. The interior restoration and renovation included authentic replicas of the original bronze and copper pendant light fixtures, specially designed wool carpeting, restored skylights and woodwork, increased seating, and a new area for periodicals, microforms, and government documents.

    As part of the Pasadena Civic Center, the Central Library is listed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks. After the restoration, several honors and awards were bestowed on the Library including the Pasadena Beautiful Foundation's 1987 Award of Merit given for the construction of the North Entrance to the Central Library, the National Preservation Honor Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation given for the meticulous restoration of the Mediterranean Revival Style at Central Library, and an award of honor in 1988 for Excellence in the Design and Execution of Architecture and the Fine Arts from the Pasadena and Foothill Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

    In the early 1990s, the Library suffered considerable reductions in hours of service and collections as city revenues declined due to the worst recession in California since the Great Depression. In June 1993, Pasadena voters approved a five year parcel tax by a 79.9% margin, restoring the Library budget to its 1989 level. In September 1993, the Library hours and book budget were completely restored and the rebuilding of the Library's collections began.

    The years of 1995 and 1996 brought many technological improvements to the Library including the addition of InfoTrac SearchBank, a computerized magazine and newspaper index; ADVANCE, a new Unix-based online library catalog; public access to the Internet with terminals at all library locations; and a newly designed Pasadena Community Information database that includes information on more than 900 Pasadena clubs and organizations, human services agencies, schools, businesses, government officials.. The Library now offers remote access to these databases, for those who live, work or own property in Pasadena, and is upgrading its computer catalog once again with the 2004 unveiling of Horizon Information Portal.

    The Central Library is visited by an average of more than 55,000 people each month, answers approximately 42,000 children and adult questions per month, and regularly schedules adult and children's programs. The Donald R. Wright Auditorium has 142 seats with 35 additional seats available on request. The Library parking lot has recently been revamped with an additional 15 spaces, as well as improved access and circulation. Parking spaces now total 120.

    Central Library's Neighborhood Characteristics

    The Pasadena Central Library serves the Pasadena community as a whole, as well as its immediate neighborhood. The Library is situated in the midst of the Civic Center area, which includes the Pasadena City Hall, the Police Department, the Permit Center, the County Courthouse, and the Convention Center. The Plaza Las Fuentes, which includes the Westin Hotel, restaurants, and offices, is an attractive complex immediately adjacent to the Civic Center area. There are residential neighborhoods surrounding the Civic Center area which are located just north of the 210 freeway and south of the Convention Center. These neighborhoods are made up of single-family homes, apartments and condominiums and contain a diverse population with a wide range of income and education levels.

    The Central Library is also surrounded by several business and shopping districts including Paseo Colorado, Old Pasadena, the South Lake Avenue Business and Shopping District, and the Playhouse District. Some of the street level retail space in the Civic Center area has residential quarters on the floors above, making it convenient for people to live and work in the area while enjoying the nearby open space and cultural amenities. Numerous small businesses, hotels, offices, and shops are close to the Library, as well as major companies with headquarters or regional divisions such as Pacific Bell, The Parsons Corporation, Avery Denison, Kaiser Permanente, Fannie Mae, and Bank of America. Recreational and cultural facilities in the vicinity include Memorial Park, Central Park, the Armory Center for the Arts, the Pacific Asia Museum, the Norton Simon Museum of Art, the Pasadena Museum of History, the Gamble House, Tournament House and Wrigley Gardens, the Pasadena Playhouse, and the Pasadena Senior Center. The Fuller Theological Seminary and Pacific Oaks College are located near the Central Library.


    Source: 2000 Census. Central Library's service area is represented by tracts 4619, 4622, 4636, and 20% of 4637. This area includes 20,967 people, of whom approximately 18% are age 17 and under.

    Political Districts

    City Council  3rd District
    Chris Holden 
    County District  5th District
    Michael Antonovich 
    State Assembly  44th District
    Anthony Portantino 
    State Senate  District 21
    Carol Liu 
    U.S Congress  Congressional District 29
    Adam Schiff

    U.S. Senate
    Barbara Boxer
    Dianne Feinstein 

    School Services

    In FY 2005/2006, the Central Library Children's Room conducted 452 programs for children with 14,755 in attendance. Of these, 183 were class visits with 3,880 in attendance.

    Public Schools
    James Madison Elementary School
    McKinley Elementary School
    Roosevelt School

    Private Schools
    Mayfield Junior School of the Holy Child Jesus
    New Horizon Elementary School&
    St. Andrew's Elementary School
    Waverly School

    All Saints
    Kids Klub
    Pasadena Day Nursery
    Scott United Methodist Preschool
    Waverly Preschool

    Community Associations

    There are over 900 clubs and organizations listed in the Pasadena Community Information database, an electronic resource available on all Pasadena Public Library catalog computers and via dial-in.

    For more information, see the Community Information database.

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