On August 12, 1988 LA84's Sports Library opened to the public serving a commmunity of researchers, journalists, students and sports fans. "Sports History at Your Fingertips" wrote Los Angeles Times sports writer Earl Gustkey.
The 1988 opening established a permanent home of one of the most comprehensive sports library and artifact collection that began nearly 50 years prior.
In 1931 Helms Bakery began a thriving and popular local bread business in Culver City. Bread was delivered "daily at your door." The bakery occupied a square block on Venice Boulevard between National and Helms Avenue. Paul Helms agreed to support Bill Schroeder's dream of opening a sports hall of fame, museum and library. The Helms Athletic Foundation museum opened in 1939.
In 1970 United Savings and Loan became its supporter and moved the collection to its headquarters near LAX on Sepulveda Boulevard. In 1973 United merged with Citizen Savings and Loan Association.
The sponsorship came to an end at the close of the decade. In January 1981, The Los Angeles Times reported "Sports Hall of Fame Seeks New Sponsor." Schroeder sought out new allies. Meanwhile, in July 1979, the International Olympic Committee selected Los Angeles to host the 1984 Olympic Games.
In 1982 First Interstate Bank purchased a property in the West Adams, Arlington Heights district of Los Angeles. The two-story red brick home was designed by architect Alfred Rosenheim for Los Angeles attorney Eugene Britt. The Britt Mansion was completed in 1909. The Britt House was registered as an historical landmark in 1978.
The Britt House avoided a sale for demolition after First Interstate Bank purchased the property. The mansion underwent a $2-million restoration and opened to the public in March 1984, a few months prior to the 1984 Olympic Games.
July 27 - August 12, 1984, Los Angeles hosts the Summer Olympic Games
Following the 1984 Olympic Games, Amateur Athletic Foundation was formed to manage the 1984 Olympic surplus funds that remained in Los Angeles. AAFLA established its offices at the Britt House Mansion and in 1985 began awarding grants to the organizations offering youth sports opportunities in Southern California and administered LA84 programs as well.
1987 Ground breaking for LA84's Paul Ziffren Sports Resource Center. The new facility housed the Sports Library and meeting room facilities.
On August 12, 1988, Sports Library opened to the public at its current location in Los Angeles' West Adams Arlington Heights neighborhood.
The Sports Library's librarians provided traditional library services to scholars, researchers, journalist, the sports fan, local schools and college students. By appointment patrons could visit and use the collection. Reference services were provided in-person and by phone.
The LA84 Sports Library managed one of the most comprehensive sports library and its special strength was in the Olympic Movement and Olympic Games history.
A thoughtful and decisive plan was made to develop, curate and maintain a digital sports history collection.
In 1997 LA84 began its endeavor to successfully scan and host unique sport digital content. The pilot project began with Los Angeles' 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games official reports. With the IOC's permission LA84 hosts a comprehensive Olympic Official Reports collection.
In addition to the official reports, the IOC granted permission to LA84 to digitize the Olympic Review, the house organ of the International Olympic Committee. Olympic Review or Revue Olympique began publication in 1894. Over 24,000 article level PDFs are full-text searchable on LA84's Digital Library.
June 2007 the AAFLA became the LA84 Foundation and continues its work funding organizations in Southern California. grant giving, coaching education, a youth sports thought leader and managing the Play Equity Fund.
Beyond the Olympic Games official reports and Olympic Review, LA84's Sports Library embarked on adding and maintaining its extensive full-text digital library collection. To date, the Digital Library hosts over 250,000 documents.
LA84 continues its pursuit to provide open access to unique and original sports digital content including Olympic, scholarly, popular, public domain and local sport history. Access to the Digital Library has generated over one million pageviews a year.
Local Sports History Digital Collections and Archives
LA84's Digital Library continues to add local sports archives, collections and themes.
- Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission | Meeting minutes.
- Helms High School selections | High school basketball, football and track and field selections
- Southern California Women's Golf history | Meeting minutes, scrapbooks, rule books
- Southern California Olympians' Oral History Project | Over 80 Olympians' Oral Histories
- 1984 Olympic Games official photographs | Selected images of LAOOC's official photographs from the 1984 Olympic Games
- 2015 Special Olympics World Games | The archives of the World Games held in Los Angeles in 2015
- LA84 Research Reports | LA84's research studies and reports
Other special and popular sports collections or titles in the Digital Library
- Baseball Magazine
- Donna de Varona Title IX
- International Table Tennis Federation
- Paralympian and Adaptive Sport Oral Histories
- Scholarly Journal articles Over 17K sport journal articles-level documents
- The Sporting Life: Over 1700 issues covering years 1883-1917
- The Sporting News Baseball Player Contract Cards: Over 181K cards
- Badminton Library Magazine - future project
LA84 made the decision to transition from a traditional library and focus processing materials for the Digital Library. In the first decades since opening in 1988, the library collections was used in a traditional manner; in-person appointments and physically handling books to read and flip through pages. But early on, the LA84 anticipated the future and understood access to materials via digital document was how the library could best serve its patrons in the 21st Century.
LA84 methodically and selectively scans and will scan items. Removing the traditional library stacks would provide better use of the library's physical space for meetings and events. In the meantime, the goal is to continue to scan materials adding to a unique and resourceful digital sports library collection.