A makeover that’s one for the books

Study for success

A C Bilbrew Library is poised to undergo a long-overdue $4.4-million makeover starting July 13.

Artistic renderings showing the new Living Wall, set to revitalize the outdoor space at AC Bilbrew Library.

“The AC Bilbrew library has long been an important community asset and these changes will make it even better,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “A community library is a central place for children and families to gather and learn in a safe environment and we are eager to see the library open its new doors soon. When these renovations are complete, everyone – from very young children to the elderly – will benefit.”

During the yearlong renovation, patrons will be able to borrow books at the Express Library in Athens Park, or at the Willowbrook, Compton, and Gardena Mayme Dear Libraries.

On a motion by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, the county Board of Supervisors approved in January a plan  to refurbish the 21,000-sq. ft.  facility at 150 East El Segundo Boulevard that first opened in 1974.

MAIN IMAGE_Bilbrew LibraryThe project calls for updating much of the interior and exterior of the library using environmentally friendly materials and sustainable design techniques. Workers will use recycled materials, incorporate energy-efficient lighting, cooling and heating systems and other consumption-reducing measures. They will also install new walls and custom cabinetryreplace the carpet and ceiling, and update the data systems and public restrooms. By the time the library reopens, it should be as close to a “net zero energy” facility as possible.

Even the façade, landscaping and pathways to the library will be improved. A wheelchair-accessible ramp will be built at the main entrance to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The library was named after Madame A C Bilbrew, a community leader, poet, musician and deputy to the late Los Angeles County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn. She was also a radio pioneer, becoming the first black person in the country to have her own radio show.

A C Bilbrew Library houses the Black Resource Center, which supports research and study on social, historical, musical and cultural aspects unique to the black experience. It has hosted the Los Angeles County Public Library system’s African American History Month Celebration since 1980.

The original library was located in a shopping center from 1964-1974. With the help of architect Vincent J. Proby, the county built the current facility and transferred services on Nov. 2, 1974.

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