Jefferson Branch Library: Never judge a book by its cover

By Alex Abels

The third of a four-part series on Jefferson Park and the changing urban neighborhood.

imageThe Jefferson Branch Library, open for nearly a century, is a building that has witnessed the changing landscape and make-up of the Jefferson Park community. It is one of the few buildings in the neighborhood placed on the National Registrar of Historic Places, recognizing its early 20th century Spanish-style architecture.

Over time, the functions of the American public library have changed, particularly found in urban communities. In some locations, patrons use the library’s computers to look for jobs. Homeless people use it as a respite from the elements. Some locations increasingly use it as a community center. Virtually all libraries have expanded their scope in one way or another, and the Jefferson Park branch is no exception.

Named in honor of Vassie D. Wright, founder of the first Black History celebration in Los Angeles in 1949, the library has long offered the surrounding community a rich menu of activities. Wright began the Our Authors Study Club, devoted to studying Black History which later launched California’s first Negro History Week, later transformed into the Black History Month that is nationally recognized today. The Our Authors Study Club still meets at the Jefferson Branch Library the third Saturday of every month, often working to raise money for college scholarships for students, one of a library’s newer functions in a new century.

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