History of the Escondido Public Library

The library has been serving Escondido since 1894 when it was a private library located in the small building which now sits in Grape Day Park. In 1898, the City of Escondido took over this library's operation, making the library a City-funded department.

At the heart of the Escondido community, Escondido Public Library has been an essential provider of information, ideas, and education for over 100 years. The idea for Escondido Public Library was formed in 1890 by the Escondido Dramatic Club, but it wasn’t until 1894 that Escondido Land and Town donated land for a library building. Since its formation, Escondido Public Library has moved from its original location on East Grand Avenue and grown into a library campus featuring the Main Library building, the Literacy Center, and the Pioneer Room, bringing together an extraordinary richness of resources and opportunities available to the people of Escondido.

Built in 1981, with the community in mind and boasting over 54,000 square feet, the Main Library building houses a 6,000 square foot children’s room, the Turrentine Room for events, a teen area, a Spanish section, and a computer lab featuring our popular Business Center. The Literacy Center provides essential literacy services to our community by supporting adults as they build basic literacy skills that will lead to a better quality of life for them and their families. The Pioneer Room, established in 1992 with a bequest from historian Frances Beven Ryan, is the primary historical research center for the City of Escondido. The Pioneer Room identifies, collects, preserves, and provides access to records, manuscripts, and other significant resources of enduring historical, legal, administrative, and fiscal value.

Outreach, dynamic programming, and partnerships with local businesses and organizations are the integral services of Escondido Public Library. From showcasing VR (Virtual Reality) and 3D printing to proudly having a volunteer force of over 200 strong and just completing our first ever Strategic Plan for 2018-2022, Escondido Public Library is continually responding to, reflecting, and representing the dynamic Escondido community.


1895-1910 - The first library building in Escondido now sits in Grape Day Park.

1910-1956 - Andrew Carnegie donated funds and land to build the Carnegie Library on South Kalmia and Third Avenue.

1956-1981- Due to limited space to serve a community of over 6,000, a new library building was constructed on the same spot. In 1996, the building became the Mathes Center and Pioneer Room

1981-Present - By 1980, Escondido had grown to 67,000 persons. Through the efforts of its trustees and City officials, revenue-sharing funds were set aside for a new 40,000 square foot facility.

Explore Escondido's History