Address285 East Walnut Street
Pasadena, CA 91101
Collection Size: 345,591
Meetings Room Seats: 142
Parking Spaces: 120
Year Opened / Expanded: 1927
Facilities & Services
Central Library is closed until further notice due to seismic safety issues.
Curbside Pickup service remains available at Hill Avenue Branch Library. Find out more about the service.
Branch Libraries (except Hill Avenue) are open for limited in-person service. Hill Avenue Branch Library is providing curbside pickup of Library materials Monday-Saturday, 10 am to 6 pm.
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 is 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)
- Matilda (1996)
- 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.
Collection Tours and Class Visits
The staff of the Pasadena Public Library provides tours of the Library Collection, which includes use of the library’s computer catalog, magazine and newspaper indexes, library databases, and the Microform Room and Periodicals collection. Tours can be broad-based or tailored to specific areas of the collection, such as job and career resources, business collections, government documents, etc. We will customize our tours for different age groups and for people with special needs.
Please contact us at least a week in advance to schedule your tour.
For Adult Tours: (626)744-4066, option 7
For Teen Tours: (626) 744-4766
For Elementary School Tours: (626) 744-4389
Central Library Architecture Tour
Pasadena Central Library opened its doors in 1927 at 285 E. Walnut Street, and was designed by renowned architects Myron Hunt and H.C. Chambers. This stately building is listed on the National Register of Historical Places.
Please call (626) 744-7076 to arrange for an Architectural Tour.
Find your own way around the Central Library
Parking at Central Library
The Central Library has a large parking lot with free parking for library patrons located behind the library off Garfield Ave. There are 120 parking spaces available for library visitors.
In an effort to alleviate some of the parking congestion at Central Library, the Parking Enforcement section of Public Works patrols and monitors the patron parking lot. Parking Enforcement personnel enforce a 3 hour time limit for the parking lot, as well as cite persons parking in the library lot who are not using the library. If you are planning on using the library for longer than the three hour limit, you may want to consider using one of the pay for use off-site facilities in the library area.
Please contact Parking Enforcement for further information regarding the parking enforcement, citation and appeals policies of the City of Pasadena.
Public transportation options are also available.
Services and Programs
For more information about programs here and throughout the Pasadena Public Library, you can visit our Library Calendar.
Infant and Toddler Storytimes on Tuesdays. (Pre-registration required for Infant and Toddler Storytimes. Call for information on how to sign up or see our Storytime Registration page.) Family Storytime Saturdays at 10:00 a.m. For special events, pre-registration and holiday programs, call (626)744-4066, option 4.
Service to the Homebased
This program is designed to provide library materials to anyone who is a resident of Pasadena and is confined to their homes or convalescent centers due to illness, injury or disability. For more details call (626)744-4066, option 7.
Donald R. Wright Auditorium
The Central Library’s Donald R. Wright Auditorium accommodates 142 people, with 35 additional seats available on request. Priority for auditorium use is given first to Library sponsored events, second to City-sponsored events and third to Pasadena based groups. All others will be given consideration on a first-come/first served basis. The Library reserves the right to preempt any event for a Library or City-sponsored event. Call (626)744-4041 on Tuesdays or Thursdays only to reserve the auditorium and to learn about Library policies about using this or other library meeting rooms. For a schedule of events in the auditorium, you can visit our Library Calendar.
Ernestine Avery Children's Wing
Previously known as the Peter Pan Room and later the Boys and Girls Room, the Children’s Wing was dedicated on April 21, 1990 as the Ernestine Avery Children’s Wing.
With more than 60,000 books, magazines, CDs, DVDs and videos for children and their parents, the collection is a treasure trove of bestsellers, popular reading and classic books, nonfiction books for homework and research reports, and an extensive folktale collection (over 2,000 volumes) arranged by country of origin. Spanish language books are also available.
Four computer workstations with educational computer games, as well as access to online databases for children and live homework help online tutoring are available. The Peek-a-Book station gives short read-alouds for recommended picture storybooks for preschoolers.
Services and Programs
Reference and reader’s advisory services are available at the children’s room desk all hours that the library is open. Storytimes for babies, toddlers and preschoolers are presented weekly (registration is required for the baby and toddler storytimes). Each month during the school year, approximately 35 classes from local schools visit the Children’s Wing for literature-based programs, browsing and checking out books.
Central Library Collection
Over 728,000 items are held at the Central Library and the nine branch libraries. The library collection offers a broad choice of circulating print and non-print materials aimed at meeting the informational needs of the Pasadena community. The Central Library has strong general reference, business, local history and periodicals collections. A high priority is placed on acquiring information and resources about Pasadena, past and present. The Library is a 25% depository for United States documents, and a partial depository for State of California documents. City of Pasadena reports, agendas, and minutes of boards and commissions are available for public review at the Central and branch libraries. The collection contains electronic resources including periodical and reference databases, and ebooks, magazines and music available online. For more information, call (626)744-4066, option 7.