The historic Central Library Goodhue building was constructed in 1926 and is a Downtown Los Angeles landmark. The Central Library complex is the third largest public library in the United States in terms of the volume of books and periodicals. The new wing of Central Library, completed in 1993, was named in honor of former mayor Tom Bradley. The complex was subsequently renamed in 2001 for former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, as the Richard Riordan Central Library. There are more than six million volumes of books in the Los Angeles Public Library system, serving the largest population of any publicly funded library system in the United States.


  • Los Angeles Central Library Building and Grounds.
    Los Angeles Central Library Building and Grounds.

The original Los Angeles Central Library was designed by architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue, taking influence from ancient Egyptian and Mediterranean Revival styles. Elements of these styles include a tiled pyramid, sphinxes, snakes, and mosaics. Some elements have been sculpted by American architectural sculptor Lee Lawrie. 

From 1988 to 1993, the Central Library was extensively renovated and expanded in a Modern/Beaux Arts style, including an enormous, eight-story atrium wing dedicated to former mayor Tom Bradley. Now, the library occupies an area of 538,000 square feet and has nearly 89 miles of shelves and seating for over 1,400 people. 

Today, the Central Library is one of the most well-known public library buildings in the United States and the staff have been honored with the National Medal for Museum and Library Service - the highest honor that can be given to a public library. Librarian John F. Szabo and community member Sergio Sanchez accepted the award on behalf of the library from First Lady Michelle Obama during a White House Ceremony on May 20, 2015.

TOM BRADLEY WING: HISTORY AND DESIGN. LA Public Library. Accessed July 09, 2017. https://www.lapl.org/branches/central-library/art-architecture/tom-bradley-wing.

Los Angeles Central Library. LA Conservancy. Accessed July 09, 2017. https://www.laconservancy.org/locations/los-angeles-central-library.