Signal Hill’s public library turned the page on another chapter of history– officially turning 85 years old on Tuesday, Dec. 17.
To commemorate the occasion, city officials and library staff served a birthday cake and beverages to the public. Later that evening, Mayor Michael Noll and the City Council presented a proclamation to recognize the library’s long history in the city.
Today, the 4,234-square-foot facility is located at 1770 E. Hill St., next door to the former Signal Hill Police Station, but the library has gone through many changes over the years.
The original Signal Hill library, which was first a part of the Los Angeles County library system, operated out of a ramshackle building in 1924. A black-and-white photograph of the library’s original home was on display during the anniversary celebration.
“If you go over there and look at the picture of the original library, it looks like cardboard boxes,” Mayor Noll joked while giving a brief history of the library during the Council presentation. “Ours is beginning to get like that because there’s so many people using it.”
Noll said, a year after first opening, a board of trustees for the library felt it was in the best interest of the city and the residents to withdraw from the county system. The board then took action to establish the first and only city-operated Signal Hill public library.
After a new position of city librarian was formed and appointed, an official city ordinance was adopted in 1928, establishing the City’s maintenance of the public library and further outlining the duties of the board of trustees.
In 1934, the Signal Hill library was relocated to the basement below the then-newly developed City Hall at Hill Street and Cherry Avenue. Then, in 1978, the library moved again to its current location, which is a former fire department building.
“After 85 years, the Signal Hill public library continues to offer the public fiction and non-fiction publications, current periodicals, newspapers and technology-related services,” Noll said.
City Librarian Gail Ashbrooke, who is Signal Hill’s seventh city librarian, said the fact that the City decided to opt out of the county system to operate its own library is a testament to the City’s responsibility to its community.
“That, for me, just shows the commitment that the City has to provide its citizens with an active, thriving library, because it’s much easier to control the library when it’s under a city jurisdiction rather than a county,” she said.
Ashbrooke and Mayor Noll also eluded to the City’s efforts to build a new library, which is currently being held up due to the State’s dissolution of redevelopment. The $8.6-million project involves building a state-of-the-art, nearly 15,000 square-foot facility.
“I really appreciate [the] aspect that the library is a city library, and I look forward to another 85 years in a new building,” Ashbrooke said.
According to the City’s website, the library circulates approximately 90,000 items annually with a book collection of more than 28,000 volumes.
Library hours are: from noon to 8pm on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays; from 10am to 5pm on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays; from 7:30am to 4:30pm on city holidays and closed on Sundays.