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Monday, September 11, 2006

Los Altos Community Library History

Los Altos was a sleepy village in July of 1914, but the residents did love to read. C.E. Minor, a Los Altos land agent, made the County a proposal it couldn't turn down. For $5 a month,
he would open and run a library with 50 books in his land office at First and Main streets. Thus on July 25th was born the first branch of the County Library . In the next few years the library was housed in various locations including the Copeland Building, Shoup Building and the Scout Hall. By 1921 the books had increased to 500 and the paycheck to $10 a month and Jessie Landels, became the Los Altos Librarian. Jessie and later her husband,
Rev. Thomas Landels were the librarians until 1944.

Feeling growing pains, in 1934 the library looked at the Southern Pacific Power House, an ivy covered building on First Street that had been vacant for several years. Paul and Guy Shoup rallied a group of Los Altans who provided paint and materials while the W.P.A. furnished the labor, and the old power house was transformed into a library. This building was leased from S.P. for $1 a year until 1957.

In 1956 a group of girl scouts asked the Mayor to study library needs. As a result of the mayor's recommendation, the Friends of the Library was formed and voters passed the first of four successful library measures. In 1964 the library was built on the present Civic Center site, and in 1975 bonds were passed for expansion of the Main Library and construction of Woodland Library in south Los Altos.

By the early 1980's state and county budgetary constraints had led to reduction of hours and service at both libraries. In 1985 the community passed a 5-year tax for restoring library services.

In 1990 the public the citizens of Los Altos and Los Altos Hills voted again: with an overwhelming 74% "yes" they extended the tax to supplement the county budget service and hours and to double the size of the Main Library.

The citizens of Los Altos and Los Altos Hills obviously still love to read, as did those in 1914, and they still vigorously support their libraries.