Friday, July 1, 2011
L.A. Law Library Celebrates 120th Anniversary Today
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The local law library is slated to celebrate its 120th anniversary today, and is fêting the event with food, drink and guided tours of archival materials normally not available for public viewing.
Reference staff will take visitors for a “behind the scenes look” at a “closed stack collection of historical and foreign legal materials,” including public presidential papers dating back to George Washington, one of the smallest books in the library’s collection—the Italian Penal Code—and one of the largest—the Dutch Gazettes, a spokesperson for the library said.
Library Executive Director Marcia Koslov said the facility “strives to meet the needs of both the legal community and the public community through continuous growth, expanded services and community engagement” and extended an invitation to all to “join us as we celebrate this milestone in our history.”
The library began undergoing a reorganization of its collection and renovations to its facility in 2009, which included the addition of public computer terminals and wi-fi in the main reading room. It now holds nearly 1 million volume equivalents in print, media, microfilm and microfiche.
It is located at 301 W. First Street, Los Angeles at the corner of First and Broadway. Library tours are scheduled at 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 3 p.m.
Articles of incorporation for a “Law Library of Los Angeles” were filed in 1886, according to W.W. Robinson’s “Lawyers of Los Angeles.”
Any attorney who had purchased a share of stock—listed at a price of $100 but later advertised at discounted rates—could use the library, then located at Temple and New High Street and housing 4,649 tomes.
In 1891, these volumes were acquired by the state-sponsored Los Angeles County Law Library, along with the 5,000-some-odd books then reposing in Room 6 of the Law Building at 21 Temple Street.
This library was supported in large part by legislation adopted that same year calling for a $1 contribution to the “Law Library Fund” from those filing state court actions.
Aided by this revenue, the library made its first purchase of foreign law books in 1894 and by 1898 had acquired the “reports of last resort” of all the states then admitted to the union.
The library continued to grow rapidly over the next several decades under the leadership of Thomas W. Robinson, who served as librarian from 1896 until 1938. A bust of Robinson adorns the library lobby today.
By 1905, the library held 15,000 volumes and cash reserves of $5,000 and had relocated to the Merchants Trust Building at 207 South Broadway.
Four years later it reached the 20,000-volume mark and moved to the International Savings Bank Building on Temple Street. In 1912 it moved again to the Hall of Records.
As the collection moved past the 204,000 mark in 1950, the site of the present library structure at the northwest corner of First Street and Broadway was acquired and construction began in 1952. The building, designed by the architectural firm of Austin, Field & Fry, opened its doors to the public the next year.
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