Monrovia Public Library

321 South Myrtle Avenue
Monrovia, CA 91016


About the Library:
Monrovia's Public Library came into being due to the efforts of the women who belonged to the Saturday Afternoon Club, the forerunner of the Women's Club of Monrovia. In 1891, just 5 years after the City of Monrovia was founded, the Saturday Afternoon Club was organized and almost immediately, the members started working towards the establishment 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. 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 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.

With an initial bequest of $50,000 from Monrovia resident Frederick P. Alvord and city funds, the current structure was built in 1956 and officially dedicated in January of 1957. It was constructed to meet the fast-moving needs of a changing post-war society. At mid-century, the world was entrenched in the industrial age and library services and needs had evolved since 1908.

As much as the community loved the Carnegie Library, the facility no longer met the library's space, program and technology needs and so, the city moved forward to provide a facility that would fulfill the needs of its current population and future generations.

Just as society changed in the first 50 years of the twentieth century, civilization has developed tremendously in the last 50 years. The computer and information ages have made vast changes in today's society and in library services. Monumental advances in technology have revolutionized the services that libraries provide and how they provide those services.

Modern library buildings must be adaptable to today's new and emerging services and technologies. 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.

So, today - 50 years since the current library was constructed - Monrovia is once again building a new library. 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 alike.

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