AKA: Oakland Public Library, Coolbrith, Ina Donna, Branch, East Oakland, Oakland, CA; Oakland Public Library, Latin American Branch, East Oakland, Oakland, CA

Structure Type: built works - social and civic buildings - libraries

Designers: Dickey and Donovan, Architects (firm); Charles William Dickey (architect)

Dates: constructed 1917-1918

1449 Miller Avenue
East Oakland, Oakland, CA 94601

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For a very brief time in 1916-1917, two well-known architects--John J. Donovan (1876-1949) and Charles W. Dickey (1871-1942)-- partnered together, this library being one their few known works. It was one of four Carnegie Corporation-funded libraries built in Oakland's growing neighborhoods with a $140,000 grant. Dickey and Donovan also obtained commissions for two other libraries funded by the same grant, the Alden and Golden Gate Branches. The 23rd Avenue Library's plan and elevations reflected clear design parameters set down by the Carnegie Corporation. It had a symmetrical composition, with a central door flanked by bi-lateral wings. Like many Carnegie Libraries it had one main floor, and central entry way. On one side of the entry stood the book stacks, on the other a reading room. The reference desk was positioned in the center, within view of the main entry. As in a panopticon, the librarian occupied a central vantage point from which she could monitor the security and decorum of the facility. The library was named for the one-time City Librarian and CA Poet Laureate, Ina Donna Coolbrith (1841-1928), a niece of the Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith, Jr., (1805-1844).

This branch had been known under three names over a 58-year span: 23rd Avenue Branch, 1918-1966, Ina Coolbrith Branch, 1966-1972, and Latin American Branch, 1972-1976. It was de-commissioned as a library after 1976 and was vacant c. 2010.

PCAD id: 17047