Athenaeum History Our history began in 1894, when a small group of pioneer La Jollans formed the La Jolla Reading Club. In 1898, a Reading Room was constructed at the corner of Girard Avenue and Wall Street, thanks to a generous donation from Florence Sawyer. In 1899, the group was incorporated as the Library Association of La Jolla, fulfilling the function of a membership library, and Ellen Browning Scripps was elected as the first president of its Board of Trustees. By the 1920s, the library had outgrown its space. With generous support from Ellen Browning Scripps and others, a new library building was designed by William Templeton Johnson, architect of many of San Diegos most important civic structures, including Balboa Parks San Diego Museum of Art and Museum of Natural History. The gracious Spanish Renaissance-style building was dedicated and opened to the public in 1921. For many years, the Library Association, a private institution, supported a general library. In 1955, the City of San Diego agreed to take over the operation of the library as one of its public library branches, and rented the space from the Athenaeum. The Association donated the bulk of the library holdings to the public library, retaining certain books on music and art as the nucleus of a collection for the newly-named Athenaeum Music & Arts Library. That same year, artist and architect William Lumpkins was hired to design an adjacent building that would complement the larger library structure. This is the building that houses the Joan & Irwin Jacobs Music Room, and is noted for its striking rotundathe Athenaeums trademark image. The Athenaeum was dedicated on June 27, 1957. By 1989, with the Athenaeums increasing collections and larger membership, the one-room library could no longer serve the needs of the organization and the community. When the general library moved to a new La Jolla branch of the public library on Draper Avenue, the Athenaeum was able to expand into part of its original building. La Jolla architect David Raphael Singer designed the expansion, joining the Athenaeum (Lumpkins) building with the 1921 (Templeton) library building. Since the expansion in July 1990, under the directorship of Erika Torri, the Athenaeum has taken on an increasingly active role in the cultural life of San Diego, attracting over 100,000 visitors each year. The library has added a large number of year-round events and programs, including art exhibitions, concerts (chamber, jazz and new music), lectures, and art classes at two studio locations. During this time, the Librarys membership has doubled, and income from membership, donations, events, and admissions has increased by a factor of 10. The Athenaeum Music & Arts Libraryone of only 17 membership libraries remaining in the United States, and one of two west of the Mississippicurrently has more than 2,200 members who pay an annual membership fee for privileges to the library and other programs. In 1999, the Athenaeum celebrated its 100th Anniversary in a whirlwind of activities and publicity that celebrated, as well, its position as one of San Diegos outstanding cultural institutions. Now in its 106th year, the library has recently launched an ambitious endowment campaignthe first in its historyto allow the expansion into the remaining portion of the original building, currently leased as retail space. Given the previous history of this unique organization, it should come as no surprise to learn that the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library has, once again, outgrown its space.