12 Librarians Who Made or Saved Los Angeles History

Learn about the librarians that helped influence the landscape of Los Angeles History from kcet.org.

In the librarian history of Los Angeles, Charles Lummis and Mary Foy are two of Los Angeles’ better known librarians, though their tenures as librarians were brief compared to their larger roles in Los Angeles.

Untitled Known as Miss Los Angeles, Mary Foy was the first woman to be City Librarian, serving from 1880 to 1884. She worked to preserve the city’s history in numerous ways, from organizing the Los Angeles High School alumni to organizing the First Century Families. Charles Lummis was never trained as a librarian and only served as City Librarian from 1905 – 1910. His acquisitions on the Spanish and Mexican period of California’s history are still held in the library’s collection today, and Lummis’ own private library became the foundation for the Southwest Museum Library, now part of the Autry National Center’s Braun Research Library. At the American Library Association convention in 1906, Lummis founded a briefly-lived tongue-in-cheek organization The Bibliosmiles, a “Rally of Librarians Who Are Nevertheless Human.” The organization’s motto was “To Keep the Bookdust Off Our Own Topshelves’.” (More details about the Bibliosmiles on blog “Library History Buff Blog”).

For a larger overview of the libraries in Los Angeles, “The World From Here, Treasures of the Great Libraries of Los Angeles” is an excellent summary based on a 2001 exhibit at the Hammer Museum. The stunning catalog includes essays about library building in Los Angeles in the 20th century, noting the Los Angeles Library Association was formed in 1872 with John Littlefield as first librarian.Untitledhasse

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