East Los Angeles Library was established on May 1, 1923, with a small collection of books in the corner of a local store. Three months later, a small building was constructed to house the collection.
In 1924, another building was constructed at Kern Avenue near Whittier Boulevard to become the new site of the public library. Then in 1932, the library moved to 679 Fetterly Avenue, where it was located for 35 years before being moved to a new building, on the corner of Third and Fetterly in 1967.
Thanks to funding from Gloria Molina, Supervisor of the First District, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the library moved into its new location in September 2004.
This brand new library building is over 26,000 square feet, nearly double the size of the old building. The library is located within the East Los Angeles Civic Center, which also includes the East Los Angeles County Hall, Courthouse, Probation Department, Sheriff's station, Edward R. Roybal Comprehensive Health Center, and Belvedere Park Lake. The library now offers expanded services and collections and an expanded Chicano Resource Center in a separate room.
Community residents requested that the new library reflect Mayan design and themes. Since many Mayan structures in southern Mexico and Central America were astronomical observatories, the designers incorporated references to the sun and the moon, both themes in Mayan art, in the pavement at the entrances and in the lobby.
The interior foyer features artist Jose Antonio's monumental mosaic mural cycle "OUR LEGACY: Forever Presente..." which is a visual tribute to East Los Angeles' proud cultural heritage and socio-political struggle.