Address285 East Walnut Street
Pasadena, CA 91101
PhonePlease call a branch
Collection Size: 345,591
Meetings Room Seats: 142
Parking Spaces: 120
Year Opened / Expanded: 1927
Facilities & Services
As of 5/3/2021, Central Library is closed to the general public until a seismic retrofit can be completed on the nearly 100 year-old building. Currently, there is no estimated date for the Central Library to reopen to the public. Learn more about the temporary closure of Central Library at: http://www.cityofpasadena.net/library/library-news/city-announces-closure-of-pasadena-central-library-due-to-seismic-safety-issues/
The Central Library housed a collection of over 300,000 items. It also served as a destination for those who needed access to a computer, Wi-Fi, or high-speed internet. Central Library also housed the iLab - an innovative space that provided the community with access to equipment such as 3-D printers, Carvey machine, sewing machines, and more. In addition, Central Library was the home of the Office of the Young Child - a citywide systems change initiative to bring all resources and activities for children up to 5 years.
Branch Libraries are open for in-person service.
All Pasadena Public Library meeting spaces are currently unavailable for reservation and use.
Pasadena’s Central Library was designed by the firm of Myron Hunt and H.C. Chambers, the architects of the Huntington Library and Occidental College. The Pasadena Central Library is on the National Register of Historic Places and has been the location for several major motion pictures. The facility was visited by an average of more than 55,000 people each month.
Central Library History
The Pasadena Central Library opened its doors at its current location in 1927. The Mediterranean-style building was designed by the firm of Myron Hunt and H.C. Chambers, the architects of the Huntington Library and Occidental College. The building was expanded in the mid-1960s to include a children’s story room and two reference wings. In the mid-1980s, a new entrance on the north was constructed as well as two additional floors for circulating books, funded by local, state and federal money. Historically sensitive interior restoration was undertaken in the late 1980s. This was funded with $3.4 million in private contributions raised by the Pasadena Public Library Foundation. The Central Library emerged with the newly renovated and restored Donald R. Wright Auditorium, a climate-controlled special collections Pasadena Centennial Room, the Ria C. Lee Humanities Wing, the Community Bank Business Room, the Ida Lloyd Crotty Genealogy Room, and the Ernestine C. Avery Children’s Wing, complete with a fully functional and expanded storyroom. The interior restoration and renovation included authentic replicas of the original bronze and copper pendant light fixtures, specially designed wool carpeting, restored skylights and woodwork, increased seating, and a new area for periodicals, microforms, and government documents.
As part of the Pasadena Civic Center, the Central Library is listed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks. After the restoration, several honors and awards were bestowed on the Library including the Pasadena Beautiful Foundation’s 1987 Award of Merit given for the construction of the North Entrance to the Central Library, the National Preservation Honor Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation given for the meticulous restoration of the Mediterranean Revival Style at Central Library, and an award of honor in 1988 for Excellence in the Design and Execution of Architecture and the Fine Arts from the Pasadena and Foothill Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
Many films have used the unique and striking architecture and interior of the Central Library in their shoots including:
- Foul Play (1978)
- Dead Heat (1988)
- Arachnophobia (1990)
- The Story Lady (1991) (TV)
- Legally Blonde (2001)
- Red Dragon (2002)
- The Salton Sea (2002)
In the early 1990s, the Library suffered considerable reductions in hours of service and collections as city revenues declined due to the worst recession in California since the Great Depression. In June 1993, Pasadena voters approved a five year parcel tax by a 79.9% margin, restoring the Library budget to its 1989 level. In September 1993, the Library hours and book budget were completely restored and the rebuilding of the Library’s collections began.
The years of 1995 and 1996 brought many technological improvements to the Library including the addition of InfoTrac SearchBank, a computerized magazine and newspaper index; ADVANCE, a new Unix-based online library catalog; public access to the Internet with terminals at all library locations; and a newly designed Pasadena Community Information database that includes information on more than 900 Pasadena clubs and organizations, human services agencies, schools, businesses, government officials. The Library now offers remote access to these databases and many more, for those who live, work or own property in Pasadena.