Impressive buildings, some close to 100 years old, are part of a series of libraries throughout Los Angeles worth visiting for more reasons than the books they protect. Many of them are accessible at no cost, and the majority allow California residents to borrow books by using a free library card. Others, for a cover charge, display precious items that are part of our country’s heritage.
The Huntington Library
Price: Weekdays: $15 adults/$12 seniors 65 and over/$10 students 12 – 18 years old/$6 youth 5 – 11 years old/Free for children under 5.
Weekends: $20 adults/$15 seniors 65 and over/$10 students 12 – 18 years old/$6 youth 5 – 11 years old/Free for children under 5.
Free for everyone on the first Thursday of every month with advanced ticket.
Hours: Mon, Wed, Thurs, Fri – Noon to 4:30 p.m., Sat and Sun – 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Tue – closed.
Formerly the house of Henry E. Huntington and his wife, the Huntington Art Gallery opened in 1928 as the first public art gallery in Southern California. Today, besides the gallery, the location includes a library and botanical gardens. The library’s collection displays rare books, including a Gutenberg Bible and the manuscript of Abraham Lincoln’s autobiography. The botanical gardens cover about 120 acres and contain rare plants from around the world.
Los Angeles Public Central Library
630 West 5th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90071
Hours: Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat – 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Tue and Thurs – 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sun – closed.
Originally constructed in 1926, the Los Angeles Central Library is a city landmark. It was designed by architect Bertram Gosvenor Goodhue with influences of ancient Egyptian and Mediterranean Revival architecture. Part of the experience of visiting this library includes looking up to the beautiful and colorful tiles and paintings overhead. This complex contains over six million volumes and is one of the largest public funded libraries in the world. Los Angeles residents can get a library card free of charge.
Related: Best Libraries for Kids in and About Los Angeles
UCLA Powell Library Building
Le Conte Avenues and Westwood Blvd.
Westwood, CA 90024
Hours: Mon to Thurs – 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Fri – 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sat – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sun – 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The Powell Library is the main undergraduate library on the UCLA campus. It was finalized in 1929 as one of the first four buildings that composed the university. It was designed with Romanesque Revival architecture and its exterior is modeled after the Milan Basilica. During the months of March and April, a special exhibition, “al-Mutanabbi Street Broadside Project,” commemorates the 2007 car bombing of Baghdad’s al-Mutanabbi Street.
Santa Monica Public Library
601 Santa Monica Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Hours: Mon to Thurs – 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fri and Sat – 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Sun – 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Part of a system of several libraries in the Santa Monica area, the new Main Library building opened its 104,000 square-foot facility to the public in 2006. This modern building offers large public computer facilities and meeting space, as well as the Martin Luther King Jr. auditorium. The auditorium is often home to quality, free concerts and other programming.
Lincoln Heights Branch Library
2530 Workman Street
Los Angeles, CA 90031
Hours: Mon, Wed, Sat – 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Tue and Thurs – 12:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Fri – 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Sun – closed.
One of three remaining “Carnegie Libraries,” this branch was started with a $35,000 grant from Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie was once the richest man in the world during the late 1800s and early 1900s, and spent his latter years as a philanthropist. This library’s Italian Renaissance structure is unique with its semi-circle shape that resembles Italy’s Villa Papa Giulio. Many of the folks who visit this library speak Spanish, thus the Lincoln Heights Library has received the nickname of “Biblioteca del Pueblo de Lincoln Heights.”
Dena Burroughs is a freelance writer living in Azusa, CA. She is a CSULA graduate with specialties in Creative Writing and Communications. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.