Pasadena Public Library

Nov 18, 2011

In 1924, Myron Hunt and H.C Chambers were one of ten architectural firms to submit a design for the Pasadena Public Library. Their Spanish Renaissance structure, with its elegantly scaled entry and patio, was particularly pleasing to the judges, and it fit the tone of the developing Civic Center, so it won. Construction began in 1925, and the library opened to an enthusiastic public in 1927. An extensive, historically sensitive restoration took place from 1984 to 1990, and today, the beautiful and highly functional pride of our library system is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Of the 840,000 items (including print, non-print, and electronic resources) in Pasadena’s ten libraries, 394,800 are at this branch, which is known for its reference, business and local history. Step inside and, we swear, you feel the thrum of inquiry (and, yes, some adorable flirting) from those seated at the solid wooden tables stacked with piles of books. You’ll also find people thumbing through the selection of 1,000 magazines, a centrally located reference desk, a wonderful children’s collection housed in its own large room—and that’s before even making it up to the stacks.

The unflappable reference staff will help you do your own research, or you may ask them to research a particular question via telephone or e-mail. And though it’s historic, it has fully embraced the digital era, offering a sizable collection of books and music that can be downloaded for a two-week lending period with a Pasadena or Glendale library card. Extras include children’s programs, films and services for the house-bound. This glorious library remains well used and much loved by generations of Pasadenans. If you haven’t hung out there, you’re missing out, and if you don’t have a library card: what the hell are you thinking? Get one—you’ll be glad you did.

285 E. Walnut St., Pasadena

6 Responses for “Pasadena Public Library”

  1. I come here to do research and use the computers sometimes. This is definitely one of the most well known places in Pasadena, and I am a big supporter of libraries and providing education to the public. I wish they had a book request though.

  2. Jill Ganon says:

    Hi Carlo:
    Thanks for your comment. If by book request you mean capacity to reserve a book, I have good news for you. It is possible to reserve books from the Pasadena Public Library. You can call the main branch at 626 744 4066 and wait for the prompt that sends you to their reference assistants. One of those knowledgeable staff members will help you to reserve a book – letting you know at which branches the book can be found. You can also get online at where you will see a search option in the upper right-hand corner of the home page that will enable you to determine if any (or all) branches have the book you are eager to find, and you can request that the book be held for you. If you are wishing we could request that the library purchase books by our request, bring it up to a reference librarian and find out what they have to say. You might start a trend.

  3. Jan Sanders says:

    Thanks for your comments. Actually, you can BOTH reserve a book we own via phone or computer AND you can ask that a particular book be purchased by filling out a blue card available at any desk. (Tell us what you think Cards). We look forward to seeing you here at the library!
    And be sure to use our wonderful neighborhood branches, too. They are great spaces to relax and read, to use our wi-fi and to generally re-connect with the world of books and reading. Our excellent staff stand ready to help you–at whichever location you prefer.

    Jan Sanders, Library Director

  4. Colleen Dunn Bates says:

    Jan, thank you so much for the input! We love our library.

  5. Jill Ganon says:

    Jan: It is great to hear from you and I’m sure I’m not alone in learning with delight about your blue card program for requesting new books. My small, jewel-like childhood library in Port Richmond, New York was built in 1905; one of fifty-six branch libraries in NY constructed with funds from Andrew Carnegie. It seemed always to have a cozy fire in the fireplace on winter days, and dappled shade outside in the hot summer months. I spent a lot of time there and I’m offering this background by way of sharing my joy at being handed “A Wrinkle in Time” by the patient Children’s Librarian, and realizing I was to be the first person to check out this new book! This memory just came to me when you mentioned your blue cards. Congratulations on being the Library Director of Pasadena’s wonderful 10-branch library system. Thanks!

  6. Jan Strutt Hart says:

    Most wonderful library ever! Began there as a four year old with summer reading club (the certificate with names of books I read and gold seal are in my scrapbook!), continued on thru Linda Vista Elementary, Eliot Junior High, and John Muir College.
    Most recent visit was ten years ago to the archives with a John Muir Lower Division classmate, Mike Holmes, to reconstruct class lists for invitation list of John Muir Class of ’52 50th reunion. The current John Muir High School had no idea that our wonderful school had been a junior college and weren’t aware that anything existed before September 1954 when the 6-4-4 plan reverted to conventional high school — or that we ever existed.
    The place is still sooo so beautiful!!



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