At the time of the 1927 opening of Central Library, this room housed the Fine Arts and Californiana collections. From 1970 to 1988, it housed the Business-Technology Department.
Today, this space once again houses the Pasadena history and Californiana collections of the Library. Dedicated June 23, 1989, the Pasadena Centennial Room was the second of the Pasadena Public Library Foundation's restoration projects and commemorates the 1986 celebration of the Centennial of Pasadena’s incorporation as a city. Major gifts for this restoration came from the Pasadena Centennial Coordinating Committee, Chandis Securities, and the Ahmanson Foundation.
The Pasadena local history collection, which includes books, periodicals, photographs, maps, city documents, videos, and ephemera (e.g. flyers, brochures, pamphlets, etc.) is housed here in the Centennial Room. Historical and contemporary materials about Pasadena are collected, preserved, and heavily used by both Pasadenans and researchers from all over the world.
Also housed here is a rare collection of materials about the discovery, exploration and settlement of California, collected by Miss Nellie Russ, City Librarian from 1898 to 1919. The collection includes such items as the Californian, the first newspaper published in California (started by Walter Colton in Monterey on August 15, 1846).
This room was originally ventilated by the clerestory windows above. These windows, like the other high windows throughout the building, were designed to be opened to provide good air circulation. You can still see the semi-circular pieces of metal which were attached to mechanical controls built into the walls; a hand crank could be attached to a metal stem which extended from the wall. With this crank in place, staff could crank open the overhead windows!
In 1989, several changes were made to provide a more protective environment for the special materials. A separate air conditioning system, which runs 24 hours a day, was installed to provide a constant temperature of 70 degrees and 45% relative humidity. Ultraviolet filters were also placed on all the windows to limit potential damage by sunlight. Grillwork doors, locked on the south side of the room, provide special security for the rarest material. Access to these materials is provided by staff at the Information Center, located just outside the Centennial Room.
Additional special features in this room include deeper than normal shelving which accommodates extremely large books, filing cabinets for ephemera and photographs, and large flat cases which hold maps, oversize photographs, scrapbooks and other items which are best protected by flat storage. A special "book edge" photocopy machine, designed to be used with fragile material, is located just off the north alcove.
As in the Main Hall, authentic replicas of the original pendant bronze and copper light fixtures were installed as replacements for the 1960's era fluorescent and sodium vapor fixtures.
Today’s "history in the making" is also available in the Centennial Room with contemporary information on the Pasadena community, City government, important local issues located on the Neighborhood Information Service kiosk.
The Genealogy Room was part of the Centennial Room project. It was named in honor of Ida Lloyd Crotty who endowed it in 1992.
By renovating and transforming what was formerly a staff workroom, space was made for the Genealogy collection in this much more accessible location here on the Main floor. Previously the materials were located up a narrow flight of stairs on the balcony over the Information Center Desk. The genealogy collection is geared toward the beginning genealogist and includes instruction books, guides, and indexes as well as a collection of Pasadena area family histories.