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Saturday, August 11, 2007


The Historic Van Nuys Public Library Building

When the great Benjamin Franklin founded "The American Philosophical Society" in 1743, he firmly established in our society the importance of libraries and museums. Dr. Franklin, who was instrumental in creating formal public schools and colleges, fully understood the essential role played by museums and libraries as informal (self-teaching) educational opportunities.
From Ben Franklin's time to the present, every significant community in the United States of America has built two great pillars of learning, museums and libraries, as essential partners to their schools and playing fields.
In 1911 the residents of Van Nuys began a library service for their newly created community. By 1925, the people of Van Nuys were ready for a fine new library. They passed a bond allowing the construction of a truly handsome Spanish style to house an important library collection. A beautiful library was opened to the public in March of 1927 at 14555 Sylvan Street.
By 1964, Van Nuys and the surrounding San Fernando Valley had exploded in population. That year alone saw over 350,000 library volumes in circulation. A new branch of the Van Nuys Library was the result, located at 6250 Sylmar Avenue.
The original Van Nuys Public Library building was used for a variety of city purposes until its closure in 2004. The structure has remained vacant since that time. The historic library, still handsome and with great potential, is challenged with earthquake retrofitting issues.
Will this important San Fernando Valley landmark join the growing list of discarded and destroyed historic structures in our city? The original Van Nuys Library building has been put up for auction by the Los Angeles City Council as a surplus structure. (No doubt our city leaders did not consider the approaching critical need for city services' property, just around the corner with the predicted, massive population explosion arrives.) We think the building should be held by the city for future needs.
Doesn't it make sense that a great urban area like the San Fernando Valley have a Museum of its own history and culture? The Museum Community hopes that our city leaders will see the value in retaining the original Van Nuys Public Library building for public use. And, just in case anyone heeds the voice of Dr. Franklin, the space would be ideal for the preservation of our history and the exhibition of our Valley's phenomenal culture.

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