Some time ago, I wrote my first “ode” about my library love affair that began when my mom took me for the very first time to our local branch in Bayside, Queens, Long Island, New York to get my first library card. I’ve been in love with libraries ever since.
In college I inhaled the stacks at the BPL (Boston Public Library) and later, while living and working in Manhattan, I pretended to be Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” during the many hours I spent in the NYPL doing research for my articles. I loved these old libraries – their hardwood floors, mahogany desks and chairs – the green or amber glass shade library lamps, their musty smell. I could live there.
And then I “met” our ‘hood’s branch library… a modern structure that lent itself to blond woods and natural light. The stacks now hold CDs and DVDs as well as books, and computers have replaced the microfilm projectors where I used to insert filmstrips (microfilm) into a “viewer” to read and research old periodicals. But the sense of possibilities of new worlds opening up to all who enter is ever present.
When I go to the SCPL, I’m so pleased to see how many people (including children) sit at tables reading and writing or wait on line to borrow a book in this internet, ebook era. Our ‘hood has changed with the times, but, thankfully, our library still seems to be flourishing.
Recently, on one of my staycation adventures, I decided to check out Los Angeles’ main library that I’ve heard so much about. You know - the one downtown.
My love affair smoldered! Here was the perfect marriage of old world libraries I grew up with back east and the 2lst century libraries like the one in our ‘hood. When I describe it, I feel like Faye Dunaway when Jack Nicholson kept slapping her, her hair flipping back and forth, in “Chinatown.”
It’s a library! (SLAP). It’s a museum! (SLAP).
It’s an art gallery! (SLAP). It’s a park! (SLAP).
It’s a theater! (SLAP).
Mother, daughter, sister, whatever… It’s all those things.
Wandering through this library was an amazing experience. The sight of the old world children’s room with its stunning antique iron lamps and colorful murals, rooms dedicated to artwork, photographs and posters of our city and state’s history… the gorgeous inlaid and painted ceilings and walls, the statues, the friezes, antique chandeliers and lighting, the old photographs and historic books on display (not to mention the thousands and thousands of books and periodicals we can all enjoy – the very reason for a library’s existence), the newer, light filled reading rooms on various topics, the exquisite globe chandelier in the Lodwrick M. Cook Rotunda, and the beautiful, whimsical, massive chandeliers created by Therman Statom hanging over the escalators in the atrium in the Tom Bradley wing… all of it - breathtaking.
So, even if you buy your books from our ‘hood’s Bookstar or order them from Amazon, take a staycation day and check out the LAPL. You won’t be disappointed.
I could live there.
And remember – whether it’s a large inner-city library or a charming village branch - support your local library.