In 1891, just 5 years after the City of Monrovia was founded, the Saturday Afternoon Club was organized and the members started working towards the development of a public library. Through a variety of fundraisers, including a tea in which the guests were asked to bring books as their means of entry instead of purchasing tickets, the women were ready to open the first Monrovia Public Library in 1895. It was located in a room in the Granite Bank building, at Palm and Myrtle Avenues. The room was rented for $2.50 a month and a librarian was hired at $1 per day. According the city’s web site, the library collection grew quickly and it soon became apparent that a separate building was needed. In 1905, the steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, who was funding library construction across the United States, agreed to donate $10,000 for a library building if the City of Monrovia would provide the land and furnish the library. The city of Monrovia purchased what is now Library Park and built its first free-standing library. It opened its doors on January 27, 1908 with a collection of 5,000 books. This library was loved by the community and served the city well for the next 45 years. However, by the late 1940’s, the increased use of the library prompted the need for a larger library. Just as society changed in the first 50 years of the twentieth century, civilization has modern library buildings must be adaptable to today’s new and emerging services and technologies.
Construction was light at the site this week, perhaps in part, due to the extreme heat wave we experienced in the Valley. – Photo by Terry Miller
A library facility now needs to include: public computer centers, literacy service centers, homework centers, business centers, audio-visual centers, quiet study rooms for individuals and groups and specially-designed children’s story hour rooms. With the advent of these new services and collections such as videos, CDs, DVDs, books-on-tape, and E-books, traditional library space has been redefined and redesigned. Today – 50 years after the current library was constructed – Monrovia is well under way with the construction of the new facility. In March, 2007, Monrovians voted overwhelmingly to approve a bond issue raising $15.5 million for the construction. The facility will cover 28,000 squre feet, twice the size of the 1957 building. It will include the space and technology the Monrovia needs and deserves. It is designed to meet the growing needs of Monrovians today and in the future. It is intended to be the city’s cultural center, responding to the informational, educational, cultural and recreational needs of all residents, businesses and visitors. The new library is slated to open in Library Park early spring, 2009.The Mary Wilcox Youth Center in Recreation Park is serving as the temporary Library for 18 months while a new 28,000-square-foot facility is built in Library Park – slated for completion and opening in the spring of 2009. The temporary facility now houses all of the library’s current children’s collection, most of the adult collection and both the adult and children’s public use computers. The Youth Center is at the corner of Mountain and Olive Avenues. Most of the library’s regular programs also continue at the temporary location or at other, publicized Monrovia venues. Pre-arranged literacy services and tutoring continue at the Monrovia Community Center, 119 W. Palm Avenue. The new library will be twice the size of the current Library. It will feature greatly expanded technology; work and study areas; a community room and more stacks for books, periodicals, DVDs and tapes. The new library will offer more seating; adult, teen and children’s areas; a heritage room; family restrooms and discrete literacy training rooms. And if you’re so inclined, you can check out the city’s web cam of the construction process at cityofmonrovia.org/index.cfm?id=940649&pageid=361