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Central Library Centennial


City Librarian, Frances Burns Linn,
Central Library Groundbreaking Ceremony September 25, 1916

Corner of Anacapa & Anapamu
circa 1918

Original Entrance

In 2017, the Central Library turns 100 years old, and the public is invited to celebrate. On June 10, the Friends of the Library will kick off the celebration with the publication of Library Book, an anthology about library love by noted writers. On August 27, celebrate at a big community birthday party. Throughout the summer, family programs encourage children to design the library of the future. See the schedule below for tours of the building, talks about local history and architecture, and music programs. On November 4, the Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation will host a fundraising and friend-raising evening event as a capstone to the centennial.  


In celebration of the 100th anniversary of Santa Barbara's Central Library the Friends of the Library have published Library Book: Writers on Libraries, an anthology of prose and poetry about the glory of libraries. Over 80 writers are represented, including Ray Bradbury, Fannie Flagg, Sue Grafton, Pico Iyer, Leon Litwack, and all the living Santa Barbara poets laureate. Writers who were raised in Santa Barbara, such as Gretel Ehrlich, Hilary Dole Klein, and D. J. Palladino are included as well as former Santa Barbarans, such as John Daniel, Jeff Greenwald, and Gayle Lynds.

Copies are available to borrow at all Santa Barbara Libraries, or purchase at The Book Den, Chaucer's, Tecolote Book Shop, and online from Amazon. All proceeds benefit the library.


Brief Timeline of the Santa Barbara Free Public Library

1882 - Santa Barbara Free Public Library established.

1892 - First Santa Barbara Public Library opens at 14 E. Carrillo St.; designed by Peter J. Barber.

1910 - Santa Barbara is first county in California to establish a County Branch System.

1914 - Santa Barbara receives $50,000 Carnegie Grant for new Central Library on the corner of Anacapa & Anapamu.

1916 - September 25, Central Library ground-breaking ceremony.

1917 - August 27, Central Library opens its doors to the public; designed by Francis Wilson.

1924 - Wood-carved tympanum installed over Main Entrance; designed by Carleton Winslow.

1925 - June 29, Great Santa Barbara Earthquake.

1930 - October 15, Faulkner Gallery opens; designed by Myron Hunt.

1943 & 1958 - Interior renovations and building upgrades.

1980 - Major building remodel; designed by Jerry Zimmer.

2012 - Central Library Designated Historic Landmark.

2015 - New Children's Library opens.


Centennial Events



Library Book Publication Party

Saturday - June 10
7:30 p.m.
Central Library

History Talk: Betsy Green, The Library and the City, 1916 & 1917

Sunday - June 11
3-4 pm
Faulkner Gallery


History Talk: Neal Graffy, The Great Santa Barbara Earthquake of 1925 - The Disaster That Built a City

Sunday - June 25
3-4 pm
Faulkner Gallery


Nonfiction book club/local history #1

History Talk: Hattie Beresford, The Faulkner Gallery: Art, Architecture, and Philanthropy

Sunday - July 9
3-4 pm
Faulkner Gallery


History Talk: History Alive! Jody Thomas IS Frances Linn

Sunday - July 23
3-4 pm
Faulkner Gallery


Nonfiction book club/local history #2

History Talk: Shelley Bookspan, Pearl Chase, A Santa Barbara Legend

Sunday - August 6
3-4 pm
Faulkner Gallery

History Talk: John Woodward, Earliest Photographs of Santa Barbara by Edwin Hayward & Henry Muzzal, 1870s

Sunday - August 20
3-4 pm
Faulkner Gallery


Community Celebration, Central Library Grand Re-opening Party

Sunday - August 27
1-5 pm


Nonfiction book club/local history #3

History Talk: Pam Post and Tim Hazeltine: Francis Wilson and Early 20th Century Architectural Eclecticism

Sunday - September 10
3-4 pm
Faulkner Gallery


History Talk: SB Trust for Historic Preservation, Chinatown and Nihonmachi: Santa Barbara’s Asian American Community in the early 20th Century, followed by tour

Sunday - September 24
3-4 pm
Faulkner Gallery


History Talk: Marc Appleton, The Architecture of the Central Library

Sunday - October 8
3-4 pm
Faulkner Gallery

History Talk: Thomas Van Stein, Emerging Influences: The First Decade of Art Exhibitions Held at the Faulkner Gallery, 1930-1940

Sunday - October 15
3-4 pm
Faulkner Gallery

Santa Barbara Music Club concert

As part of the Santa Barbara Public Library’s Centennial Celebration, this concert features American music spanning the past 100 years, with a special focus on that most American of genres, ragtime. The program features works by Leonard Bernstein, William Bolcom, Aaron Copland, Hal Isbitz, Scott Joplin,  Marjorie Merryman, and Eric Valinsky.

Saturday - October 21
3-4:30 pm
Faulkner Gallery

History Talk: John Woodward, The Edson Smith Collection of Historic Photographs at the Santa Barbara Public Library 

Sunday - October 22
Faulkner Gallery

History Book Club: Rancho San Julian: The Story of a Ranch and Its People by Dibblee A. Poett

Thursday - October 26
10:30 am - 12 pm
Central Library Tech Lab


Centennial Gala

The Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation presents: Cocktails & Culture: A Centennial Celebration. Enjoy literary cocktails, ample hors-d'oeuvres, celebratory dessert, entertainment, and enticing information about the library's past, present, and future. Join us and stroll the stacks dressed in your favorite cocktail finery from the past 100 years!

Saturday - November 4

History Talk: Jeremy Tessmer:  The First Golden Age of Art in Santa Barbara 1910-1926

Sunday - November 5
Faulkner Gallery

Last Updated: Jul 3, 2018
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