Placer County's first Carnegie Library has stood like a beacon on the hill. Auburn and its history are intertwined as this venerable hidden landmark continues to serve its community.
For more than 100 years, the Auburn Public Library has served not only as a home for books and learning, but as home to city government, law enforcement, an employment office during the Depression, as home to the first County Library, Placer County Historical Society, the Placer County Genealogy Society and the arts.
It serves today as the Old Library Art Studios (OLAS), the only Carnegie Library in California to do so.
In 1906 the Auburn City Trustees established a free library and a Library Board of Trustees. By December 27 of that year, the library opened in a rented ($12 a month) two-room facility on Central Square with 725 volumes and a dozen magazines. Although Auburn had struggled to establish a library since the early 1860s, it was the generosity of industrialist Andrew Carnegie that finally gave permanence to a free library in the county seat. He gave the city $10,000 to build a library with the condition the city furnish the property and provide at least $1,000 a year to maintain it. Property owners paid a 20 cents tax per $100 of assessed valuation to meet this requirement.
The city paid $400 to state Senator William B. Lardner for the site on Almond Street with the provisions that a concrete sidewalk be provided and the street widened to 25 feet from curb to curb so that "teams (of horses) could travel easily at all times." Allen D. Fellows was the architect for the Greek revival style building, the most common for Carnegie libraries, and also for the one soon to follow in Lincoln.