Search billions of records on



Riverside County









            The Riverside Public Library had its inception as a society in 1879 and was founded as a public library in 1888.  It is unique as the only institution in the world that combines a municipal library, a county free library and a library school, occupying three fine buildings in the very heart of the city.  The library board, which consists of five directors appointed by the mayor, is as follows:  Judge O. K. Morton, president; Frank D. Troth, secretary; Mrs. T. L. Lorbeer; and W. G. Farndale.  The librarian is Charles F. Woods, a biography of whom appears elsewhere in this work.

            We quote in part an interesting article by Joseph F. Daniels, the former librarian, which appeared in the special annual edition of the “The Riverside Enterprise,” dated April 14, 1917:  “The American public library has become a great supplementary institution to the whole system of education.  It does more than a correspondence school and does it at less cost.  It has become conspicuous as the only informal institution of education that satisfies the public.  Socially and intellectually the public library in the United States has become a great educational force and it is just beginning its active community work. . . . .

            “The service of schools is an extremely complicated and technical service.  The city service is, of course, the most intimate and personal service.  The county service is designed to reach the remotest reader with the book and the California system is the pattern for the whole country, but the city service offers a staff of experts handling a rich store of all sorts of human knowledge and with the direct, personal contact.  Its circulation of books for home use is large—very large and important, but the really important community service is the use of an excellent reference equipment supplemented by home use.  To say that the public library circulated one hundred and thirty-five thousand books (1917) within the city is to leave the tale of actual service untold.  Hundreds of reference and research topics are handled for the people every month and the telephone rings all day long.  Riverside owns ten thousand public documents in addition to other reference material.  There are but three such collections in southern California (Los Angeles, San Diego and Riverside) and our neighbors from leagues around come here for official data of all sorts.  The great magazine and newspaper indexes, some covering more than one hundred years, are at Riverside and our experts make them useful to the whole country.  Debaters, club workers, legislators and all sorts and conditions of men depend almost wholly on a reference collection such as that used here.

            “A large and generous service is also rendered from our state library, which is a remarkable institution and is the parent of all the county libraries in the state.  The collection of rare and expensive books on many subjects is used at all times by city and county residents and many of these items draw visitors from a distance who prefer to work in the Riverside Public Library where the conditions for research work and reference are inviting.”

            The presence of an exceptional number of fine books in the Riverside Public Library is due to the existence of several endowment funds which make possible the purchase of books, the price of which would seem prohibitory if the expense had to be defrayed from public moneys.  Ethan Allen Chase, a prominent citizen and early settler of Riverside, gave five thousand dollars, of which the income was to be used for the purchase of books of biography, history, science, travel and literature.  In addition to the gift of her husband’s special library, Mrs. John Correja gave three thousand dollars, the interest of which was to be used for the purchase of books in the field of architecture and design, the whole to be a memorial to her husband, a distinguished Brooklyn architect.  A smaller endowment, a memorial to Dorothy Daniels, daughter of the former librarian, has supplied books of historical and artistic interest in the field of juvenile literature.  Such gifts prove graceful, useful and durable memorials to those identified with the perpetuation of our culture.

            In the ten year period between the census of 1920 and that of 1930 the increase in population of the City of Riverside was 54%, while the increase of circulation at the main library for the same period was 113%.  Immediately succeeding this period of remarkable growth, the following appeared in the “Summary Report of the Riverside Public Library” for 1930-1931:  “It is notorious among librarians that the use of libraries is increased in times of financial depression, so it is not surprising that the increase in circulation of the library during the past year is slightly larger than the average for the previous ten years, the increase for the year being eleven per cent.  Last year we attained two record monthly circulations but these were exceeded several times during the year covered by this report.  In time of unemployment the library becomes in a special degree a resource for diversion and instruction and every effort should be made to avoid any curtailment of the library’s activities.  The registered borrowers number 11,153, thirty-six per cent of the population of the city.  This exceeds by one-fifth the standard set by the American Library Association.  Compared with the registration, the circulation at the main library, therefore, shows the reading of over twenty-four books per registered borrower.  For the second year a large increase has been recorded without entailing the employment of additional help at our circulation desk. . . . .  During the year 7,119 books were accessioned, bringing the net total of books and pamphlets in the library for the first time over the one hundred and fifty thousand mark. . . . .

            “Under special contract with the board of education, the Riverside Public Library provided one hundred eight classroom collections in ten elementary schools of the city, in addition to operating libraries in two schools. . . . .

            “During the year three new branches have been opened, two branches were re-opened, and three schools joined the County Library.  Innovations in the work with county schools were marked extension of magazine service and the installation of a collection of phonograph records.  Miss Eleanor Wilson, in charge of the department, made one hundred twenty-two visits to seventy-three distributing agencies.  The number of books sent out to branches increased eleven per cent for the year while the circulation increased seventeen per cent. . . . .

            “Among the notable exhibits from outside sources during the year have been those of the American Institute of Graphic Arts of New York City (including Fifty Books of the Year and Printing for Commerce), the Roosevelt Traveling Exhibit, the Library Loan Exhibit of the Traphagen School of Fashion of New York City, and the Exhibit of the American Library Association illustrative of Library Work with Children.  The library is indebted to many local persons and non-residents for gifts of books and reference material during the year.  As an enduring result of the munificence of Ethan Allen Chase and Mrs. John Correja, notable books continue to be added to the Chase and Correja collections.”

            The financial report for the year ending June 30, 1931, shows receipts and disbursements amounting to $71,707.20.  The total number of agencies is ninety-four, including the main library, one branch, nineteen city schools, thirty-five county stations and thirty-eight county schools.  The total circulation for the year in the City of Riverside was 349,837 and at all agencies 471,746.  The Summary Reports says further:

            “This year has seen slight change in the curricula of the Riverside Library Service School.  We now offer a year course of thirty-three weeks and a summer session of eight weeks, with special and elective courses, so that one may do sixteen weeks of work in two summer sessions.  There is also an intersession of two weeks immediately preceding the summer session, when four special and elective courses are offered to year course and special students.  By entering this intersession, students may increase their periods of summer session study to eighteen weeks.. . . .”

            The following is quoted from a leaflet printed in November, 1930:  The Riverside Library Service School, accredited by the California State Department of Education, is located at Riverside, California, about fifty miles east of Los Angeles, and is reached by the Southern Pacific, Santa Fe, Union Pacific and Pacific Electric Railways.  Set in the midst of orange groves, with tree-lined streets and with excellent paved roads stretching away to the high mountains, Riverside is one of the most beautiful cities in all California.  It is a city of high civic standards and of excellent cultural opportunities and is the seat of a number of important institutions, including a Junior College, the Graduate School of Tropical Horticulture and Citrus Experiment Station of the University of California, and Sherman Institute, a government school for Indians.  The world-famous Glenwood Mission Inn is next door to the library.  The population is thirty-one thousand in an area of thirty-nine square miles.

            “The Riverside Public Library is an excellent basis for study and for the development of one planning to enter library work.  It has more than one hundred and thirty-five thousand books and pamphlets, is well organized, employs advanced methods and actively serves an interested public.  The library also performs the functions of a county free library, serving more than eighty branches and stations in a county having about the area of the state of Massachusetts.  The unique California County Free Library System may thus be studied here in active operations.”

            The courses given in the Riverside Library Service School are as follows:  history of the classification of knowledge; library administration; library law; modern languages for catalogers—German, French, Italian and Spanish.




Transcribed by V. Gerald Iaquinta.

Source: California of the South Vol. III, by John Steven McGroarty, Pages 15-20, Clarke Publ., Chicago, Los Angeles,  Indianapolis.  1933.

© 2012  V. Gerald Iaquinta.