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Central Los Angeles

Historic Library Opens New Chapter After Renovation

June 20, 1996

The quake-damaged historic building that housed the Lincoln Heights library has been retrofitted and restored to its Italian renaissance-style splendor. It will open its doors today.

The $3-million renovation of "Biblioteca del Pueblo de Lincoln Heights" included earthquake reinforcement, 2,000 square feet of additional space, a homework center and a community meeting room. The library, which houses about 40,000 books, also offers a computer center with access to a wide network of resources.

The two-story, brick-stucco structure, constructed in 1916 with a grant from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, was closed in March 1990 after officials determined that the building failed safety standards. Since then, the branch has operated out of a temporary storefront on north Broadway.

The library was one of three inner-city branches closed because of structural damage sustained in the Whittier earthquake in October 1987.

Renovation of the yellow building at 2530 Workman St. began in January 1994 with $2.4 million from the sale of bonds approved by city voters in 1989 and federal grants.

A $50,000 grant from the Century City-based Joseph Drown Foundation allowed for the addition of the electronic library.

The computer components include 14 terminals that access databases connected to the Central Los Angeles branch. This includes indexes from hundreds of magazines and newspapers, access to the World Wide Web and information on the city's public libraries.

The branch's librarian, Denise Nossett, said she is excited about the amenities.

"The old library was still in the Dark Ages," Nossett said. "I'm thrilled about the opening. There are computers, more reading space and more library materials available to children and adults."

The branch is accessible to the disabled and offers carpeted and air-conditioned reading areas. Marble floors in the circulation area and hallway are accented with oakwood doors and panels.

A public art piece, made by local artist Ricardo Rodriguez Duffy, also was installed at an entrance to the circulation desk. The library seemed especially inviting to Simon Cano, a resident who stopped to admire the site while walking with his 5-year-old daughter, Anjelica.

"This is someplace where I can take my daughter and read with her. It had been shut down for so long," Cano said. "[The library opening] is something I've been waiting for for a long time."

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