A Brief Pio Pico – Koreatown Branch Library History

The Pio Pico – Koreatown Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library opened to the public in 1900 as the Pico Heights Delivery Station. Located in a rented storeroom at 1312 El Molino Street, it became known as the Pico Heights Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library in 1903.

After voters passed a bond issue for a new library building, ground was broken in May of 1922 at the corner of Oxford and Connecticut Avenue. The 2,800 square-foot facility was completed and open to the public in October, 1923; in 1926 it was officially named the Pio Pico Branch after Pio de Jesus Pico, the last governor of Mexican California.

Structural problems led to the demolition of the historic building in 1979, and bookmobile service was established in the community for nearly two years until the branch found temporary quarters, 2,300 square feet, at 2631 W. Olympic Blvd. At that time, supporters and library officials agreed on plans for a permanent home.

By 1990, Korean American patronage had increased to more than 50%, and residents initiated a name change. Approved that year by the Board of Library Commissioners, the name became Pio Pico – Koreatown, which retained the branch's Spanish heritage and added Koreatown's geographic identification.

With plans to exchange property for construction of a permanent location underway, the grand opening of this new temporary facility marks the beginning of an expanded role for the Library within the community. With support from the nationwide "Libraries Online!" program, the branch has been transformed into a "virtual electronic" library. As such it offers the latest in advanced technology including workstations with electronic access to an array of information resources which would otherwise not be available in the building, creating, in essence, a library without walls.

"Libraries Online!" represents a one-year $3 million commitment by the Microsoft Corporation to the Public Library Association (PLA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA). Los Angeles Public Library is one of nine library systems selected to receive grants, staff training, computer software, and technical support to address local community needs. Cahuenga Branch Library and Pio Pico – Koreatown Branch Library are the two LAPL sites chosen to share the $105,000 cash grant and $26,851 in software.

Patrons at the Pio Pico – Koreatown Branch will be able to access many databases found in LAPL's downtown Central Library via microcomputers; indexes and articles from hundreds of magazine and newspaper titles including the Los Angeles Times and New York Times; a wide range of databases and abstracts related to business, science and general interest topics; Internet with access to the World Wide Web and its international public, private and scientific libraries; and LAPL's WEB Home Page with information about Central Library, collections and resources, locations and hours of all branch libraries, and descriptions of library events and programs.

The 5,000-square-foot facility is air-conditioned, carpeted and accessible to the disabled. It also has increased electrical capacity to accommodate modern library technology, including LAPL's new automated circulation system and computerized catalog, which provides information about books available within the entire Los Angeles Public Library system.