|LA County Library|
|Location||Downey, Los Angeles County, California, United States|
|Reference to legal mandate||County Free Library Act|
|Criteria for collection||County residents|
|Access and use|
|Director||Skye Patrick, County Librarian|
LA County Library is one of the largest public library systems in the United States which serves residents living in 49 of the 88 incorporated cities of Los Angeles County, California. United States, and those living in unincorporated areas resulting in a service area extending over 3,000 square miles (7,800 km2). The LA County Library system provides local libraries to several unincorporated areas and cities across Los Angeles County, and is not to be confused with the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) system, which serves areas within the city of Los Angeles.
On February 25, 1911, California enacted the County Free Library Law, by which all county governments were authorized to establish a "county free library" to serve all areas of the county where cities and towns had not already established free public libraries. This led to the establishment of the Los Angeles County Free Library, later to become the Los Angeles County Public Library system of branches. Circa 1914, the collection was kept on the “10th floor of the Hall of Records, North Broadway and Franklin Streets.”
The library system, headquartered in Downey, California, is overseen by the Library Commission of 20 appointed members who report on administration, operation, and service to the County Board of Supervisors who operate County Library as a special fund department.
Skye Patrick was appointed County Librarian on February 1, 2016.
LA County Library initiated a partnership with the Los Angeles County Probation Department to serve systems-involved youth with an institutional library at Central Juvenile Hall. It offers collections and trained librarians to help improve literacy, teach parenting skills, and encourage respectful interactions. Programming at five Probation Juvenile Day Reporting Centers teaches life skills, builds self-confidence, and introduces potential career paths.
LA County Library also partnered with County of Los Angeles departments to implement lived experience programs aimed at redirecting youth from engaging in at-risk behaviors. The My Brother’s Keeper Peer Advocate program hires young adults of color with lived experience as advisors and liaisons. These Peer Advocates build community relationships, develop programming, and raise awareness of Library services.
LA County Library launched three book kiosks located at County housing sites: Cedar Springs Housing in La Verne serving transition age youth, tenants with mental health disorders, and low-income families; Carmelitos in Long Beach; and Nueva Maravilla Senior Housing in East Los Angeles. The Library installed bookshelves at 10 barbershops across South Los Angeles to encourage reading for boys ages 4 – 8 to help minimize the literacy gap between young men of color and their peers.
When LA County Library was forced to close its doors in March 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Library established a Laptop & Hotspot Loan service, expanded Wi-Fi service to Library parking lots with Park & Connect, and developed virtual programs on YouTube and Webex Events for all ages and interests, such as programs about distance learning and workforce development.
LA County Library was a finalist for the IMLS National Medal in 2018 and 2019.
LA County Library won the 2018 Marketer of the Year Award, the 2019 Librarian of the Year Award for Skye Patrick, and the 2019 Library of the Year Award. All three awards were from Library Journal, and this was the first time a single organization held all three awards at the same time.
In 2023, LA County Library was selected as one of eight recipients of the 2023 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries that demonstrate excellence in service to their communities.
The library provides many resources, including literacy services and programs for families and children.
The library system offers consumer health information under CHIPS (Consumer Health Information Program and Services).