Rare Books

The volumes in our Rare Book Collections are non-circulating, available for on-site use only. Most of the rare books can also be found by searching the Library catalog, OneSearch. Collections include:

Description of the Empire of China

Glen Schwendemann Collection
The Glen Schwendemann Collection includes nearly 500 books, dated 1556-1990, and was donated to the library in 2005. Schwendemann, a retired Torrance history teacher and book binder, personally rebound and repaired over 300 of the books. Mr. Schwendemann's interest in rare book collecting reflects both his interest in historic exploration and excavation, and his skill at repairing books damaged by misuse or age. In his garage/book bindery, Schwendemann would de-acidify the book, sew the binding and cover the book with decorative paper and a leather, cloth or vellum casing. The books are both beautiful and useable thanks to Schwendemann's expertise. Topics in the collection cover a wide range, including European expeditions of the Arctic, Africa, South America and Tibet; ancient history; excavations and travel memoirs.

Local History Collection
Special Collections includes the local history collection, which consists of published material about Southern California, with a special focus on the South Bay of Los Angeles. The local history book collection complements the historic manuscripts in the Special Collections about the Rancho San Pedro.

The Buckner Collection
The Buckner Collection consists of American popular culture reading materials, especially from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

The Newbery Honor Award Children's Book Collection
The Newbery Honor Award Children's Book Collection consists of American literature for children recognized and honored annually by the American Library Association for distinguished writing. Learn more about the Newbery Award by visiting the American Library Association.

Alfred and Bernice Ligon Aquarian Collection
This collection consists of rare books collected by Alfred and Bernice Ligon as the proprietors and founders of The longest continuously owned African American Bookstore in Los Angeles; their interests in African American history and culture; and studies and teaching of metaphysics, occultism and black gnostic studies.