History - Library

Current year to 1909

2016.  Funded through a California Library Services and Technology Act Grant, The Library book bike “BPL W.H.E.E.L.S. rolls out, providing library services throughout the community. Staff use the book bike to hand out materials and free books, register library cards, and demonstrate databases at pop-up events and community gatherings. The W.H.E.E.L.S. in the title stands for "We Help Everyone Enjoy Library Services."

November, 2016. The Library launched the "Me, You, We" community podcast project. Funded through a California Library Services and Technology Act Grant, the project was designed to take the MEs and the YOUs of the community and create a more connected sense of WE. Each episode introduces you to a member of the community, either through a single story or a more comprehensive conversation about their life. They are meant to be ice breakers, similar to the random conversation you may stumble into with a stranger at a coffee shop. 

me you we soundcloud round

Brad McCulley was appointed as City Librarian.
Brad headshot  
2010. Pat Harding was appointed as City Librarian.
Pat headshot
2009.  The Burlingame Public Library celebrated its Centennial in 1909 style.
Centennial staff photo

2008 .Two lion statues were installed at the entrance to the library. These "Literary Lions" were a Centennial gift from the Library Board of Trustees through the Duncan Trust art fund. They will be named and dedicated as part of the Library's Centennial Celebration.
Lion statues

2004 .The re-opening of the Easton Branch Library was celebrated. Extensive remodeling of this historic building maintained the 1920's era color and style while providing 21st century functionality.

February 2003. The library building was flooded by a leak from a faulty water valve on the third floor, dumping more than 25,000 gallons of water throughout the library building causing extensive damage. After a month closed for clean-up and repairs, the library reopened on March 17th.  
October 4, 1997. The newly reconstructed library building was dedicated. The cover of the April 1998 issue of the periodical American Library Journal featured an interior photo of the Burlingame Public Library and named it “The Jewel of Burlingame.”

1995-1996. Reconstruction of the library building began. The   goals were to address issues of seismic safety, the need for   increased space and for upgrades to support technology.   During  construction, the library operated out of temporary   quarters on Park Road in Burlingame.

January 1993. Alfred Escoffier was appointed City Librarian.

December 1992. City Librarian Patti Bergsing retired after 35 years of service to the Burlingame Public Library.

July 12, 1987. The Library celebrated its 75th Anniversary with an old fashioned party reminiscent of 1912 featuring musical entertainment from the period, clowns, a classic car parade, a ventriloquist and a silent art auction.

March 28, 1985.
 "Burlingame Library On Line" - Burlingame library users had their first chance to use the new automated circulation system. Users received new bar-coded computer cards to borrow materials.

1982. COM CAT, the PLS Catalog of Books was introduced. It was described as, "Similar to the card catalog but better - listings by author, title, and subject, and which library on the Peninsula owns them."

July 1978. Passage of Proposition 13 reduced library revenue and resulted in cut-backs of library services and hours. Discussions of closing the Easton Branch were heated and continued through the remainder of 1978 with a decision reached in December to keep the Branch open for 19 hours a week. This new schedule became effective on January 2, 1979.

May 1977.
 Patti Bergsing was appointed as City Librarian. 

April 2, 1977. Longtime City Librarian George Paul Lechich retired after 29 years of service to the City of Burlingame. 

January 26, 1975. An Open House was held celebrating the re-opening of the remodeled Easton Branch library. Major features of the approximately $48,000 remodeling included painting interior and exterior of the building, full carpeting, a new fireplace, new roof, shelving, new shutters, and improved lighting.


April, 1972.
 Six major public libraries in San Mateo County became linked together by the County microwave network system. A teletype machine at the reference desk allowed librarians to tie into the system and locate books at other libraries.

 March 5, 1972. Dedication ceremonies were held for the expansion of the Burlingame Public Library. The work completed was valued at $550,000 and coordinated old and new sections of the building and added new furniture and equipment.

December 22, 1971. Burlingame had the largest city library for its population of any city on the Peninsula. Its members now had access to all other Peninsula libraries as well, owing to a new inter-library agreement. Carpeting was added to the library, making it even more usable.

October 1, 1970. The Burlingame Public Library joined other public libraries in San Mateo County to form the Peninsula Library System giving registered library users access to resources in all of the libraries.

September 23, 1970. The Friends of the Burlingame Library held their first meeting. The Friends was created as a volunteer organization dedicated to promoting community understanding of the library, its services, resources, and needs, assisting with book sales, service to shut-ins, book review programs, and special exhibits.

January 1964.
 Burlingame Public Library’s 12,000 users got new, “charge-a-plate” type cards to check out books. This new technology used a small card with a metal plate attached to it. This card was inserted in a charge machine which stamped the number onto a book-card. 1963

April 7, 1960. Colorful ceremonies marked the opening of a $70,000 addition to Burlingame’s main public library. The new space accommodated 65,000 additional books including 3,000 more volumes in the new reference room.

October 6, 1958.
 Controversy over the bestselling novel Lolita prompted this response from Burlingame City Librarian George P. Lechich, “People should be allowed to read what they want. If they demand it, they should be allowed to read it – they’re paying for it.”               

August 11, 1958. Each Burlingame resident borrowed an average of 12 books per year from the library, an increase of 44% since 1950. In response to this, the Burlingame City Council approved a tax of 26 cents per $1000 assessed value to add a new wing to the library and to increase the library’s operating budget.             

September 1957. The California Public Library Commission Bill became law. This bill was designed to examine public library services throughout the state and recommend improvements to make service available to all residents.                

November 1956. “The library, which boasts one of the largest per capita book circulations of any library in the state and has 100,000 volumes cramming its shelves, is running out of space.” Advance Star November 24, 1956.

June 1952. Telephone Reference service was added to the offerings of the library with the hiring of a reference librarian to handle the calls.

1951. "Burlingame is noted for one of the most beautiful and best appointed public libraries to be found in any medium-sized city in the world. Under the guidance of Librarian Paul Lechich, it has a collection of more than 85,000 volumes to serve its patrons and affords them access to nearly 200 periodicals and newspapers. The total circulation to borrowers of adults and children's books, and phonograph records, amounted to over 200,000 in the last fiscal year. For the use of the North Burlingame residents, the library maintains a branch at Easton Drive and Cabrillo Ave. This branch library has a collection of 15,000 volumes." Burlingame Municipal Report 1951

October 1950. George Paul Lechich began his long career as Burlingame Librarian. 

January 1943. The Easton Branch Library opened in the building formerly housing the North Burlingame Women's Club. The new Easton Branch started with a collection of 3,000 books carefully selected from the main library's stock of 70,000. Hours of operation for the Easton Branch were 2-6 and 7-9 Monday - Saturday.

May 3, 1931. A new library building opened in the current location. The “Italian Renaissance” style library building was designed by Burlingame architect Col. E. L. Norberg. “The new library is considered one of the finest in the West. Equipped with the latest and most beautiful of equipment and furnishings, the library is one of the most beautiful buildings on the entire Peninsula.” Burlingame Advance December 1931

 Once again, voters had the opportunity to support construction of a new library building and this time the Bond issue for $65,000 was passed. 

December 15, 1925.
 Burlingame residents voted on a $75,000 Library Bond issue to fund construction of a new library and to purchase land in North Burlingame for future use as a Branch Library. The measure, which would have cost the average resident $1.92 per year, failed to win the necessary 2/3 majority (vote was 527 Yes to 427 No) thus delaying plans for construction.


April 16, 1925.
 The collection of the library had grown to 15,000 with a total of 3,000 card holders and monthly circulation averaging between 4,000 and 5,000 books.

July 1912. The library moved to a building purchased from the Congregational Church. The property was valued at $5,000 as of June 30, 1913. The library’s collection consisted of 2,800 volumes and the total number of card holders was 785.


October 18, 1909. The Burlingame Public Library was authorized by an ordinance passed by the Board of Town Trustees. The first home for the library was Room 7 of the Bank Building with Mrs. George E. Jones acting as librarian. The library was open from 2-5 and from 7-9 PM daily. There were 243 adult card holders and 125 children by the end of June 1912, with a total of 1,540 volumes.