Posted by: Brad Nixon | April 9, 2018

National Library Week; Lincoln Heights Carnegie Library, Los Angeles

It’s National Library Week in the United States. This is always an important celebration at Under Western Skies: an opportunity to promote awareness of and support for public libraries.

I live in Los Angeles County, California. The LA County Public Library system serves the largest population of any publicly funded library in the U.S. through its downtown Central Library and 72 branch libraries: about 18 million people. In addition, there are numerous municipalities within the county that maintain their own library district. I have an LA County library card. They’re free to all California residents.

Libraries, technically, aren’t structures. They’re typically located in buildings, but the soul of a library is its holdings and the staff. Still, as regular readers know, I enjoy visiting libraries, especially ones with interesting architectural histories. For this year’s National Library Week, I visited one of three surviving Carnegie Library buildings in the LA system: Lincoln Heights Branch Library.

Lincoln Heights Library Brad Nixon P (640x317)

Lincoln Heights, northeast of downtown, across the Los Angeles River, is considered LA’s oldest neighborhood outside of the city center. Established in 1830, it’s seen successive waves of occupation by a wide variety of populations as Los Angeles attracted immigrants from across the continent and around the world. There are old Victorian houses, 19th Century commercial buildings, Art Deco structures, post-war buildings and a current wave of gentrification is changing the area once again.

A small branch library began serving the area in 1900 at the request of the citizens, and Lincoln Heights, like LA in general, was growing.

In 1911, Los Angeles received a grant of $210,000 to build six new branch libraries. Lincoln Heights was the fifth one completed, and opened in 1916.

Lincoln Heights Library Brad Nixon 1447 (640x453)

Its floorplan, the segment of a circle, is unique in at least California, and I’ve never seen another Carnegie like it anywhere. The interior is one large space, lit by the high clerestory windows on both sides. Due to the curve, one can’t see from one end of the interior to the other.

Lincoln Heights Library Brad Nixon 1443 (640x480)

The space behind the three arches in the center is a lower-ceiled addition to the library from the 1990s, lit by a skylight.

In the center, facing the entrance doors, is the large service desk. Its oak construction is likely the original, since oak was widely used in furniture and interiors of the period, and practically a standard in libraries.

Lincoln Heights Library Brad Nixon 1441 (640x498)

The interior of the entrance is surrounded by a large oak portal, a bit monumental by today’s tastes, and perhaps even a little out of scale even in its day, despite the high barrel vaulted ceiling.

Lincoln Heights Library Brad Nixon 1444 (640x465)

The architects, Hibbard and Cody, are reported to have modeled the building’s Italian Renaissance revival style after the Villa Papa Giulio in Rome, built by Pope Julius III in 1551. Click here to view a photo, and you’ll see the resemblance.

Another National Library Week. Another opportunity to support your local library. If you have a local bond issue or tax levy for your library coming up this fall, vote yes. These things don’t pay for themselves, and we certainly can’t expect any push from the current federal government to increase support for libraries. Most libraries are almost completely locally funded, anyway. I hope the next generation has the opportunity I had to visit a local library. The Children’s Section is waiting for them.

Lincoln Heights Library Brad Nixon 1440 (640x486)

The Lincoln Heights Branch Library is located at 2530 Workman Street, Los Angeles, California (map, upper right).

Lincoln Heights Library map

It occupies a corner lot and faces a not-too-busy intersection with East Avenue 26. There is free street parking, which presented no problem for me on a Thursday afternoon. There are a number of architectural points of interest in the area, and I’ll present a few in future posts.

I also look forward to visiting LA’s other two remaining Carnegie structures, both of them still active Los Angeles branch libraries. See you there.

Click here to visit the library’s site for hours and other information. There’s a brief history of the library at this link.

Some of the photographs in this post and select images from other Under Western Skies posts are available on Click on the linked photos, or CLICK HERE to view the Underawesternsky photo portfolio.

© Brad Nixon 2018. Map © Google


  1. What a treasure!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice library pics.


  3. Always love reading your library write ups. Also appreciate all of your support for libraries!

    Liked by 1 person

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