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Public Library History

1916 The first library serving El Segundo was a Los Angeles County branch 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 was now 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.

1954 Dorothea Fitzgerald was appointed Librarian with the retirement of Mary Halley on February 28.  Miss Fitzgerald had served as Assistant Librarian the previous two decades.

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 Sue Carter Friends of the El Segundo Public Library Community Room.

1978 Dorothea Fitzgerald retired on July 1 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 and started planning for a major expansion to better meet the needs of the changing community.

1991 The Library entered into an agreement with the El Segundo Unified School District to take responsibility for the libraries on the school campuses. As part of the agreement, the library provides personnel and support for school library materials. 

1992 The newly expanded and automated library was dedicated on March 15. The four-million dollar project, 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. In addition to much needed space for the collection, the design addressed energy and staff efficiency, climate control, compliance with seismic standards, security, and handicapped accessibility.

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.  By this time the Friends membership had grown to over 200 individuals, families, businesses, and organizations.

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 PTAs 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 the Library's partnership with the
School District in administering the School libraries.  The first annual Author Fair, which showcases the works of local authors, was held at the Library.  The Adult Literacy Program was launched with funding from Chevron, Incorporated.

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

2005 An interior modification of the Public Library included four new study rooms, a new tiled entryway, and re-configured staff offices.

2009 Due to increased demand, internet computers were expanded from 8 to 20 for use on the main floor and in the children's library.  The former Technology Room was converted into a study room.

2016 The Library became a destination for the El Segundo Art Walk.

2017 Debra Brighton retired after 30 years with the Library and 18 years as Library Director.  Under her leadership, she initiated the Author Fair and added study rooms.  She also brought the Library into the digital age by offering free Wi-Fi access, downloadable eBooks and audiobooks, and initiated creation of the reading lounge area.

2018 Melissa McCollum became the new Library Director.  Under her leadership, the Library developed and expanded cultural programming and partnerships.

2019 The reference book shelving, on the northeast side of the main floor, were removed and the space was transformed into a reading lounge area with couches and tables with phone and laptop charging stations.  A partnership with the El Segundo Museum of Art (ESMoA) enables rotating art exhibits in the reading lounge.  The photocopier room was repurposed as the "Room of Requirement" to feature informative art exhibits by the El Segundo Arts and Culture Committee.  Interior painting of the public areas and new furniture in the children's section added to the library refresh.  Technology upgrades included self-checkout, mobile printing, and public scanning.  A re-dedication ceremony was held to rename the Friends of the Library Room to the Sue Carter Friends of the El Segundo Public Library Community Room.  An unveiling ceremony for a mural titled Portals of Memory, by artist Nanibah Chacon, was held in the Sue Carter Friends of the Library Room.

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