Thanks to the efforts of the Burbank Chamber of Commerce, the Burbank Public Library began in May 1913 as a contract branch of the Los Angeles County Library. It shared quarters with the Library of the "Brotherhood" in the Thompson Block building on the corner of Olive Avenue and San Fernando Road. The Ladies' Auxiliary acted as custodians.
By 1921, Burbank's library was located in a room in City Hall and had 500 volumes. It moved back to the Thompson building in 1923. In January 1924, Mrs. Elizabeth Knox was appointed Librarian and soon afterwards the library moved to the ground floor of a centrally located building, a better situation for the needs of the library.
In 1935, a new library building was erected at 425 East Olive Avenue, on the northeast corner of Glenoaks Boulevard. This 8,000-square-foot building was constructed at a cost of $33,000, with all the funds raised locally. Mrs. Elizabeth Ripley was the City Librarian.
Since Burbank was experiencing rapid growth, it was decided the City would establish its own municipal library. So on July 1, 1938, the Burbank Public Library began operation as a City department. All the Los Angeles County Library books were returned, leaving the shelves rather bare. Generous Burbank residents donated more than 2,000 books to the newly established Burbank Public Library. When the little library opened its doors on August 22, 1938, there were 5,000 books ready for circulation with another 3,000 volumes still being cataloged.
The Burbank Public Library continued to expand. In February 1948, the Buena Vista Branch Library was established in the valley section of Burbank. Carolyn See was appointed the branch librarian and there were 3,929 cataloged books in the collection.
In October of 1952, E. Caswell Perry succeeded Mrs. Ripley as City Librarian. The following year, the Main Library began to offer Audio Visual services. Burbank residents could now check out records and 16mm films.
The West Burbank Branch Library on Burbank Blvd. opened in September of 1954 in leased store quarters. Another similar branch, the North Glenoaks Branch Library at Irving Drive between Scott Road and Glenoaks Boulevard, opened in August of 1956. Each branch held between 7,000 and 10,000 books.
The Buena Vista Branch Library was remodeled and enlarged from 5,000 square feet to 8,000 square feet in 1958.
By 1961, the Main Library's book collection had more than doubled and was rapidly outgrowing the library's space. A new two-story Central Library was completed in July of 1963 and boasted more than four times the space of the old library. The dedication for the Burbank Central Library was held on November 17, 1963.
In 1972, the Northwest Park Branch Library was built at a cost of $188,340. It replaced the small storefront West Burbank Branch. Following the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, the small North Glenoaks Branch closed its doors permanently.
The Friends of the Burbank Public Library was incorporated on July 15, 1980. This volunteer non-profit organization plays an important role in raising funds to support and promote the Burbank Public Library. In 1989, the Burbank Public Library entered the computer age with the introduction of the CLSI automated catalog and checkout system.
The Burbank Public Library received a grant from the California State Library to establish an Adult Literacy program in 1992.
In October of 1999, the Burbank Public Library converted its automation system to SIRSI, an online catalog and checkout system.
The Millennium and Beyond
The Burbank Public Library began offering free Internet access to the public in September of 2000.
By January of 2001, library patrons could access the Burbank Public Library's OPAC (online public access catalog) over the Internet from any home or office computer.
The Groundbreaking Ceremony for the new state-of-the-art Buena Vista Branch Library was held on October 6, 2001. This new facility was dedicated on December 7, 2002, and opened for business on December 9.