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Public Library History

1916 The first library serving El Segundo was a Los Angeles County branch library located in the El Segundo Hotel, which was on Richmond Street across from the Standard Oil Refinery. Standard Oil paid the first year’s rent for the library space. Virginia Fitzgerald was the first librarian.

1919 The library was moved to a room in the first City Hall, located at the corner of
Richmond Street and Franklin Avenue. Miss Mary Halley was appointed Librarian.

September 20, 1930 The first municipal Public Library opened its doors at 123-125 West Grand Avenue. The library would now be operated by the City rather than the County. Mr. James F. McCullough was the Librarian. The collection of 1,400 books circulated among 1,041 borrowers.

August 15, 1933 The library moved into the new Converse Building at 204-206 West Grand Avenue. Miss Halley served as Acting Librarian following the death of Mr. McCullough. Her appointment as Librarian was confirmed November 1, 1933.

1935 Trustees of the El Segundo School District deeded over the land now known as Library Park to the City for a fee of $10. Construction of the library began in 1940 but was halted due to the shortage of help and materials during World War II.

1941-1945 The completed basement area of the library was used as an air raid shelter and civilian defense center until the end of World War II in 1945.

1946 Construction resumed, and the library was completed in 1948 at a cost of $76,000.

1963 The Library now had 3,400 books and about 4,000 borrowers. More space was needed, so the staff and collection moved temporarily into the
Richmond Street School
. An 8,000 square-foot expansion and the remodeling of the remainder of the Library were completed in the Spring of 1964.

1972 The Friends of the El Segundo Public Library was formed under the leadership of Library Director Dorothea Fitzgerald. The mission of the organization of approximately 80 members was to provide support for library services.

1975 The basement was cleared and a Young People’s Library was added in what is now the Matsui Room.

1978 Dorothea Fitzgerald retired after 44 years with the Library. Barbara Kirby was promoted to City Librarian. During Kirby’s tenure, the library joined the Metropolitan Cooperative Library System, which gave the borrowers access to materials from other libraries in the region.

1988 Barbara Pearson was hired as Library Director. Under her leadership an expansion was planned and carried out.

1991 The Library entered into an agreement with the El Segundo School District to take responsibility for the libraries on the school campuses. Not only does the library provide personnel for all school libraries, but it also catalogs all school library materials and provides a joint catalog for all the libraries.

1992 The newly remodeled and newly automated library was opened. The four-million dollar remodeling, designed by architects Charles Walton & Associates, added approximately 16,000 square feet to the building, doubling floor space and patron seating capacity. The Young People’s Library moved to a new space with windows, and their former space became a public meeting room. The design, in addition to adding much needed space for the collection, addressed energy and staff efficiency, climate control, compliance with seismic standards, security and handicapped accessibility.

1995 Under the leadership of Sue Carter, the Friends’ membership had grown to over 200 individuals, families, businesses and organizations.

1997 On the 25th anniversary of its founding, the Friends presented a unique quilt that hangs in the library stairwell. This quilt features fiber artist Marilyn Felber’s interpretation of the El Segundo Blue Butterfly, which is on the endangered species list.

1999 Debra Brighton became the new Library Director. The Middle School Library was moved and remodeled to its current site at
332 Center Street

2000 The Friends and the El Segundo PTA’s joined together in a fund-raising endeavor for the new Richmond Street School Library. Over $56,000 was raised for a core collection of books and other materials.

2001 The City was awarded an International City Management Association Award for our partnership with the
School District in administering the School libraries.

2003 The High School and Center St. Libraries were the final libraries to be remodeled with steel shelving, furniture and upgraded with new online catalogs.

2005 An interior modification of the Public Library included four new meeting rooms, a new tiled entryway, and re-configured staff offices. After a community naming contest, the names of the meeting rooms were approved by City Council as: The Blue Butterfly, The Sand Dune, the Gazebo, and the Rose Garden Rooms.

2009 The Number of internet computers was expanded from 8 to 20 for use on the main floor and in the children's library. Popular events include the  annual Author Fair in June, a free monthly concert series, and the popular Summer Reading Program.

Copies of the History of the El Segundo Public Library with photographs are available at the Reference Desk in the Library.

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