La Cañada Library still serving its purpose

La Cañada was one of the first communities in Los Angeles County to lend books to residents, setting up a library at the back of a general store in 1913.

The library was located at the intersection of Union and Michigan avenues, near the current Foothill Boulevard. It opened on May 23, 1913, becoming the second library in the county.

The library moved to several different locations following its founding, settling into its current location on 4545 Oakwood Ave. in 1971. On Saturday, friends and staff celebrated the facility's centennial anniversary with a rededication ceremony.

And in spite of the growth of ebooks and digital borrowing, residents still see a need for a physical library, library staffers said.

"We're one of 87 libraries in the county," said Library Manager Mark Totten. "We're the 20th busiest. We're in the top quarter, so there is a need for it."

The library opened a century ago with a modest collection of 71 books. That's grown to a collection of 75,000 items, including periodicals and audio books. It offers popular items like bestsellers and mystery series, while also boosting rare and historic documents.

Residents can access environmental impact reports of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, vintage directories and even the first issue of the Valley Sun, published in 1946.

"A lot of the libraries don't carry those anymore," said Totten.

The facility continues to grow with help from the community.

Friends of the Library, a nonprofit organization, holds two book sales each year and collects donations for items like large-print books.

Kimberly Talbert, who has worked at the library for 33 years, said members of the community also continually donate books and other items. "It's another vehicle to expand our collection with things we might not be able to replace otherwise," she said.

Talbert, 58, started working in libraries in 1974. Over time, she has seen a card catalog replaced with an online system and now teaches patrons how to borrow ebooks. She knows all the regulars.

"There are a lot of people who I've known for a long time," she said. "We had some girl come in the other day and I said, 'Didn't you used to be in our storytime?' And she said, 'yes, and now I bring my daughter.'"

Talbert started working at the library before the city became incorporated in 1976.

"Even when I've been up for promotion, I always tell them I want to work here," she said. "I love the community."


Follow Tiffany Kelly on Google+ and on Twitter: @LATiffanyKelly.

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