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  • Pasadena in Words and Pictures

    Pasadena History Collection

    The Pasadena Centennial Room brings together the Library's collections of books and other materials which reflect the City's unique historical and cultural development. Special attention is given to collecting "tomorrow's history" which means that essential current information is also available.

    Access to current information is provided via the Pasadena Community Information database, and the Neighborhood Information kiosk which displays for public review City Council agendas, minutes, budgets, and reports, as well as materials from City Commissions.

    A great wealth of information about Pasadena can be found on the City of Pasadena's web .

    Books about Pasadena

    Pasadena's well-documented history is represented in the collection of historical and descriptive books about Pasadena and Pasadenans: city directories; business directories; works on local art, architecture, music and cultural activities; a selection of novels set in Pasadena; and a representative selection of books by Pasadena authors and local publishers and presses. An extensive collection of City-issued documents, reports, codes, newsletters, and studies which provide citizens with historic information about the City and its operations are also available.

    Historical Photographs

    Pasadena History Collection

    Pasadena's history is also reflected in the Library's collection of approximately 4000 photographs. The following broad subject area are covered in the collection: buildings; business; Pasadena City departments; people; organizations; transportation; and views. The collection encompasses dates from the 1880's to the 1970's with the bulk of the photos documenting Pasadena prior to 1925.

    Because these photographs are a unique and fragile resource and are not available for browsing, please call the Library at (626)744-4066, option 7, in advance of visiting to arrange for an appointment. Staff will schedule a mutually convenient time to show you photographs which directly relate to the subject which you are researching.

    Copies of photographs are available for purchase in a variety of sizes and prices through the Library's photographer. Fees paid to the Library will vary according to the planned use for the photos.

    Ephemera & Other Materials

    Other materials in the Pasadena Centennial Room include maps, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, scrapbooks, newsletters, periodicals, posters, postcards, films, videos, sheet music, and sound recordings. The Pasadena Master Index provides a topical index to much of this material.

    Pasadena Newspapers

    A comprehensive collection of Pasadena newspapers on microfilm is available in the nearby Microform Center. There is no index to Pasadena newspapers prior to January 1, 1997, However, the clipping files and scrapbooks located in the Pasadena Centennial Room may be useful in locating desired materials. Beginning with May 1, 1996, the Library began the Pasadena Newspaper index which indexes articles about Pasadena from the Pasadena Star-News, the Pasadena Weekly, the Herald Tribune and the Pasadena/San Gabriel Valley Journal.

    California Collection

    California historical collection

    As library director from 1889 to 1919, Nellie Russ assembled a collection of books which were rare at the time of their acquisition. These books trace the history of California from its discovery and contain works in English and Spanish that relate to its rule under Spain, Mexico, and the United States. The growth of the collection is chronicled in Gertrude Stoughton's The Books of California.

    Treasures in the Pasadena Centennial Room include:

    A collection of letters of early Californians such as Antonio Pico, Hugo Reid, Abel Stearns and others copies of The Californian, the state's first newspaper, founded in 1846 by Walter Colton in Monterey

    A vellum bound 1787 copy of Father Francisco Palou's life of Father Serra, Relacion Historica de la Vida y Apostolicas Tareas del Venerable Padre Fray Junipero Serra

    Early accounts and guides to life in California's gold fields such as an 1849 second edition of Wierzbicki's California As It Is and As It May Be, Or, A Guide to the Gold Regions.

    Centennial Room Services

    Reference assistance for the collection is available all hours the Library is open from the Information Center which is located just outside the entrance to the room.

    The collection is for reference use only and should not be removed from the Pasadena Centennial Room. Some items must be retrieved by the reference staff and signed out upon the presentation of a library card or some other identification. Some rare, fragile or difficult to replace items, such as photographs, will be available by appointment only.

    Arrangements may be made with the reference staff for making or obtaining copies of photographs or for copying oversize materials such as maps.

    The Library reference staff is happy to assist with your research needs in person, or by letter addressed to:

    Information Access Services
    Pasadena Public Library
    285 East Walnut Street
    Pasadena, CA 91101

    Photocopying Facilities in Centennial Room

    Self-service photocopying is available in the Copy Center. The current cost is 15 cents a page.

    Self-service photocopying for microfilm and microfiche is also available in the Microform Center. The current cost is 15 cents a page.

    Photocopying done by Library staff and delivered by mail or FAX may also be requested. The current charge is $6.00 per title and 30 cents a page. Payment must be made by cash or by a check made out to "City of Pasadena - Library."

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