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Insider Article [April 2013] [04/09/13] (A Century of Service from the Torrance Public Library)
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A Century of Service from the Torrance Public Library

photo of Torrance 1963
Torrance Library’s first purpose built building in 1963. 
Photo of Torrance today
Current Torrance Public Library

In 1912, Jared Sidney Torrance founded a new City, a community south of Los Angeles and north of the San Pedro harbor.  Mr. Torrance thought that such a community needed to "enjoy an environment which will make for good health, good morals, and industrial welfare and prosperity" and invited Mrs. Isabel Henderson to travel west, and open a public library.  In 1913, from her front parlor, Mrs. Henderson lent about 300 books contributed by Mr. Torrance and his partners, issuing the very first Torrance library card to young Albert Isen, future Mayor of Torrance.  

A move to management by the Los Angeles County Library shortly thereafter brought the first purpose built library building opening in 1936 - a building still standing today and hosting the Torrance Historical Society and Museum.  The Walteria neighborhood hosted the first branch library - with three other branches soon settling in, nestled into existing City parks.  In 1967, voters of Torrance passed a bond issue for the establishment of a municipal library, and construction of the Katy Geissert Civic Center Library on Torrance Blvd.  This building opened in 1971, with wiring for piped music, a children's maze, storytime steps, and a floor plan for 225,000 books.  Torrance Public Library opened a mini-branch in the Del Amo mall, held job hunting classes, and even gave away kittens (really!).  Truly a public library that responded to the needs of the community.

Today six libraries hold over 700,000 items for loan, have over 170,000 library card holders (more than the entire population of Torrance), and offer a diversity of services to Mr. Torrance's dream community.  We are proud to be celebrating a Century of Service to the public.

Hillary Theyer
Principal Librarian
Torrance Public Library