Did you know that the second largest public law library outside of Washington, D.C. (second only to the Library of Congress) is right here in Downtown LA? Yes, the Los Angeles Law Library, located at 1st and Broadway in the Civic Center, has an impressive collection of nearly 1 million books and documents pertaining to everything you could possibly want to know about the legal universe (yes, there are even volumes on “United States Space Law”). Although the library may still only be relevant to a certain niche (i.e., government officials, those studying law or preparing for a trial case for instance), I find it wonderful that this tremendous resource is here in Downtown LA, contributing to the prestige and significance of our urban center.
Earlier this year, the LA Law Library began construction on a much needed restoration project that simultaneously gave the aging structure a nice facelift. After decades of wear and tear, the 1952 structure was vulnerable to water leaks, which is definitely not good for a library filled with valuable books. Allana Buick & Bers were chosen to waterproof the structure and Troller Mayer Associates are the architects who redesigned the new face of the library.
According to Douglas Myers, the Communications Director for the library, in order to resolve water damage to the building, a “wedge cut” into the building facing 1st Street was necessary “to get into the structure.”
“We successfully repaired the building, put on a new roof, installed new drainage and irrigation systems and put an elastomeric coating on the building, which is a thicker water proof paint that will help protect the building for years to come,” Douglas explains.
“As the ‘wedge cut’ required that we dig around the outside of the building, we took the opportunity to make our front entry more accessible and safe, and also added a garden space with drought tolerant and low-maintenance vegetation.”
Construction wrapped up last week auspiciously around the same time as the much anticipated grand opening of the adjacent Grand Park. (I’m all about urban synergy.) Another exciting aspect to the library’s restoration includes a new cafe and outdoor patio that will be opening this fall 2012. According to Myers, a couple of proprietors are vying to operate the cafe. The outdoor patio seating area will definitely help activate the library’s front entrance, contributing to the urban energy that makes Downtown LA both interesting and exciting.
In addition to the exterior improvements, over the last couple of years, the library also upgraded the main public reading room. New signs in the mid-century modern style appropriate for the era of the building’s architecture were installed. Improvements and upgrades to the furniture, shelves, lighting, and carpeting were completed as well as rearranging the space to be more intuitive and borrower-friendly.
“We are excited to be part of the revitalized downtown, only steps away from the new Grand Park, Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Civic Center metro stop,” Myers said.
“The LA Law Library has public resources on everything from family law and real estate to naturalization and intellectual property,” added Myers. “We encourage the public to visit the Law Library and see what we have to offer.”
A peek inside the LA Law Library’s extensive collection (not open to public)