Picture it…Banning, California in 1916…

The cry heard around the City was, “Banning needs a library!”  This realization became a priority for Banning residents in 1916, as the newly incorporated City of approximately 1,000 began assembling the necessary components of a successful town.  Already in place by 1916, was the infrastructure of water, gas, and electric utilities.  Schools, churches, banks and a small downtown section of commercial enterprises soon developed.  Banning’s new residents brought with them the knowledge that a library was a fundamental necessity, an essential element in the creation of a model community, just as it is today in 2016.

On August 21, 1916, Banning and Cabazon citizens voted to establish a public library to be housed in the Banning Union High School.  Ruth Ellis, who also served as the librarian for the High School, was selected as the first librarian for the Banning Public Library.

The library opened its doors and received its first shipment of books in October 1916, from Riverside County.  Other books were donated by residents and when funds became available through monthly taxes, purchases of books were gradually added to the collection. 

After the old High School was condemned due to earthquake damage, a new High School was built in 1938, and the library moved into the new building which provided one-third more space.  As Banning’s population expanded in the 1940s and 1950s, it became necessary for the library to have its own facility.  The Banning Public Library, designed by famed desert architect Albert Frey, was built in 1955, at a cost of $82,466.53.  When the library moved into its new building, its collection of books had grown to 36,000.

As the population of the San Gorgonio Pass increased, the Banning Public Library expanded to meet growing demand.  The first renovation was the addition of a Children’s Room in 1961, followed by Administrative and Technical Services offices in 1977, and a 3,000 sq. ft. addition on the east side of the library in 1990, with hopefully more renovations planned for the future.  The words emblazoned in concrete on the second Banning Public Library read “Books Invite All, They Constrain None.”  These words continue to provide the inspiration for future generations who will be using the Banning Public Library.  The Banning Library District is committed to continue the proud 100 year old legacy of providing quality library services for the residents of Banning and the San Gorgonio Pass.  Watch the library grow and change along with our population!  If you have not had a chance to visit us recently, please stop by and see us soon and welcome back.  If you are a frequent library user, we are looking forward to seeing you again.  Join us for family-friendly programming scheduled throughout the year as we celebrate our 100th Anniversary!!!


The Banning Library District continues to respond to the challenges of changing information technologies and currently provides:

-18 Internet access stations along with instructional computer classes and computer labs

-61,000 Adult, Teen, and Children’s materials

-105 periodicals/newspapers

-Large Print materials

-3,375 DVDs and 1,750 Audio CDs (books and music)

-Electronic Books (e-books-Overdrive and Enki)

-Electronic Audio (e-audio-Recorded Books-One Click Digital)

-Digital magazines (Zinio)

-Learn a new language (Mango)

-ESL {English as a Second Language}, Citizenship and language courses (Pronunciator)

-Download music (Freegal)

-Search your family tree (Ancestry.com)

We answer approximately 7,200 general reference questions and 100 local history reference questions annually, along with assisting almost 2,700 individuals with technology issues.

The Banning Library District had 82,466 library visits in 2015, and 77,762 items were checked out from our collection.  We also had 6,363 attendees to our various Adult, Teen, and Children’s programs throughout the year.