Yorba Linda History

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History of the Yorba Linda Public Library

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Yorba Linda's first librarian, Gertrude Welch, celebrating Christmas with her uncle in 1910. The ostrich's name was “President Taft,” and was the main attraction at a South Pasadena ostrich farm.

In April of 1913, Gertrude Welch thought that the people of Yorba Linda should have their own library. A citizen's group held a meeting and made plans to start a library. The Yorba Linda School District gave permission to put the library in a 300-square foot room in the grammar school on School Street.

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The library was located in the Yorba Linda School on School street until 1916.

Volunteers installed bookshelves and helped to redecorate the room. Gertrude Welch herself donated sixty-three books to the new library, and the Yorba Linda Women's Club donated books and held “teas” to raise money.

The library opened on May 2, 1913. Books could be checked out for one week, and a fine of two cents a day was charged for overdue items. Only two books could be checked out at a time, one fiction and one nonfiction. The library was open on Tuesdays and Fridays from 3:00 PM to sunset.

The report for May of 1913, the first month the library was open was as follows:

Days open


Total circulation


Largest daily circulation


Smallest daily circulation


New books


New library cards


Amount of fines collected


On March 3, 1914, the Yorba Linda Library District, the first library district in California, was established and a board of trustees appointed by the Orange County Board of Supervisors. This allowed the library to raise tax money to purchase materials and provide better service.

The room in the schoolhouse continued to serve as the library for over three years. In December of 1916, a lot was purchased at the southeast corner of Valencia Street and Lemon Drive. A building was erected and the library relocated there in the late summer of 1917. Amanda Longnecker, Yorba Linda's first schoolteacher, was the librarian.

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In the early 1920's, the library purchased and moved into a building that formerly housed a post office and general store on Olinda Street. The library remained there until 1960.

By 1958, the collection had grown to 13, 500 books and the library needed to expand. Unfortunately, the library building, which was constructed in 1916, could not be altered according to the county building code. The library district asked for a bond issue in order to build a new 6,000-square foot library. A library bond issue for $80,000 was passed on July 8, 1959 by a vote of 280 to 39.

Groundbreaker for the new library took place on Saturday, March 7, 1959. Hurless Barton, honorary mayor of Yorba Linda, presided over the event. The Dedication was held on February 7, 1960.

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The library in the mid 1960's.

By 1970, there were about 55,000 books in the library, and the building was unable to accommodate the growing collection. A bond issue of $585,000 was passed and the library was enlarged with a three-level addition, which added 17,425-square feet. Dedication for the library addition was held on June 26, 1971.

In July of 1985, the Yorba Linda District Library was dissolved, and the library became a department of the city of Yorba Linda and was renamed the Yorba Linda Public Library.

Between 1990 and 1992, the library was again remodeled. The building was enlarged to 28, 530-square feet. Total cost for the project was $3,700,000 and was financed with existing revenue from the library and general and redevelopment agency funds. Mayor Irwin Fried officiated at the dedication ceremony on September 12, 1992. Assemblyman Mickey Conroy, Assemblyman Ross Johnson, State Senator John Lewis, and Orange County Supervisor Gaddi Vasquez also attended the ceremony.

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