Miss Sara Plummer established the City's first library on State Street in 1870. When Miss Plummer married and left the city, the library was sold to the Odd Fellows and moved to their lodge at State and Haley Streets. The library became public and free when the Odd Fellows donated their collection of about 2,000 volumes to the City after the enactment of the California Municipal Library Law by the State Legislature in 1880.
As both the library and the city of Santa Barbara continued to grow, the library moved several times over the following decades. In 1892, a new building was constructed at 14 East Carrillo Street (pictured above).
With the aid of a grant from the Carnegie Foundation, the City broke ground on a new library at Anapamu and Anacapa Streets in July 1916. The building was designed by Pittsburgh architect Henry Hornbostel, with revised plans by local architect Francis Wilson. The library opened to the public the following year.
On June 29, 1925, the library sustained major damage in an earthquake. After a reconstruction project led by architect Carleton Winslow, it reopened in the fall of 1926.
The Faulkner Gallery, designed by architect Myron Hunt and built with the assistance of funds donated by Mary Faulkner Gould, was completed in 1930.
In 1882, the City Council established, by ordinance, the first Library Board of Trustees. When the 1967 City Charter was adopted, the duties of the Board were expanded and its name was changed to the Library Board.