From the Archive: Holidays Past

Beyond twisting strings of light around the fronds of palm trees, Los Angeles is a diversely festive city that has always taken an active part in this season’s many multicultural celebrations. Here’s a look back through the Los Angeles Public Library’s Photo Collection at how Angelenos have historically celebrated Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas.

Lighting Hanukkah Candles Yaniv, aged 3, fourth child from left, with friends, lighting Hannukah candles at the Jewish kindergarten in London. Part of Shades of L.A., an archive of photographs representing the contemporary and historic diversity of families in Los Angeles, this photo is dated 1962.

Hannukah Advertising Sal Mineo and Frank Fott, Regional Manager of Foster and Kleiser Outdoor Advertising, pose next to a public service message billboard urging people to buy State of Israel bonds for free tickets to a Festival to be held Sunday, December 15 of an unidentified year, at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.


Kwanzaa Parade Participants of the participants, including local resident Majaliwa (left of center), at the annual Kwanzaa Parade. Approximately a hundred participants took part in the parade despite the rain and low turnout. The parade started at Exposition and Crenshaw boulevards, and ended at Leimert Park. Local stores, including New York Pants, are present in the background. Photograph dated December 31, 1988.


Ruddy Elf Arrives by Rickshaw caption dated December 22, 1987 partially reads, “Arriving for the first time in public relations history by rickshaw, Santa Claus had to cool it with the ‘On, Dancer, On, Prancer’ stuff when he hit Chinatown in the person-drawn vehicle yesterday. He brought gifts including popcorn and candy for the Asian-American children at Castellare [sp] Elementary school. In return, the kids serenaded St. Nicholas with carols at a party organized by merchants on Gin Ling Way.” Photo by Mike Mullen.


Danish Christmas Party
Photograph article dated December 3, 1964 partially reads, “The authentic Danish Christmas party was given by Peter F. Heering, fifth generation president of the company producing that famous Cherry Heering liqueur. His great great grandfather (a contemporary and acquaintance of Hans Christian Andersen) started the company’s wonderful custom of treating underprivileged children. Tuesday’s guests were 40 kids from Hollygrove Children’s Home and the East Los Angeles Boys Club. They were introduced to the lovely Danish Christmas traditions and given a boatload of imported presents.”

Search more of the many historical photos in the Library’s collection here. Happy holidays from the Library Foundation!

Looking Back at 2014′s Voices of ALOUD

Every year ALOUD brings a diverse range of fascinating voices to the stage for Angelenos to engage with books, art, music, history, science, politics, and more—representing some of the most important stories of our time. We hope you were able to join us for many of the 60 exciting programs in 2014, but just in case, here’s a look back at a few favorite moments. Click on any of the links below for podcasts, videos, and photos.

Jam Sessions
Many electrifying musicians took the ALOUD stage, including legendary punk rocker Exene Cervenka, award-winning pianist Jeremy Denk, classical sensation Jessye Norman, and Grammy Award-winning Angélique Kidjo. And last but not least, ALOUD’s 2014 culminating event featured Carlos Santana discussing his new memoir at the historic Orpheum Theatre.


Up Close and Personal
From deeply moving memoirs to riveting biographies, a cast of captivating characters filled the Central Library this year—from theatre critic John Lahr’s thrilling journey into the mind of Tennessee Williams, to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Héctor Tobar’s miraculous account of the thirty-three men buried in a Chilean mine, to never-before-shared stories from the illuminating life of Cesar Chavez, to Geoff Dyer on his wildly eclectic writing. Also, The New Yorker’s Jill Lepore unearthed The Secret History of Wonder Woman and bestselling author Jesmyn Ward and New York Times columnist Charles Blow shared their personal stories of growing up in the rural South.


Art Talk
ALOUD’s 2014 lineup of artists and art talks further solidified Downtown L.A. as the heart of the city’s pulsing art scene. In a co-presentation with The Broad museum, John Waters spoke with Jeff Koons about his iconic works. Zsa Zsa Gershick directed a dramatic reading of  “Dear ONE,” a moving adaptation of materials from ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at USC. “Master of the impossible” Philippe Petit performed magic tricks, while sociologist Sarah Thornton performed the difficult task of answering the impossible question: “What is an artist?”  In a first-ever interactive art performance at ALOUD, Machine Project transformed the Central Library through sound, dance, video, and multimedia improvisations.


Good Reads
And finally, a slate of authors topping many of this year’s best lists discussed their critically-acclaimed works at ALOUD. Lorrie Moore read from her first book of short stories in over 15 years. Pulitzer Prize-winning Marilynne Robinson returned to ALOUD to discuss the last novel in her trilogy, meanwhile Edward St. Aubyn introduced readers to his first book since finishing a five-volume series. Colm Tóibín and Rachel Kushner partnered up for an intimate conversation about Tóibín’s latest book at the Writers Guild Theater, while back at Central Library, an impressive group of actors led by Jason Ritter took the stage for WORDTheatre’s interpretation of Denis Johnson’s epistolary “The Starlight on Idaho.” For fans of Los Angeles history, Walter Kirn spoke with James Ellroy on his latest book Perfidia.


Thank you for spending the year with us! We look forward to seeing you in 2015. Learn more about our 2015 program calendar here.

Sharing a Love for Libraries with Meghan Daum

As we’ve officially entered the holiday season, it’s the time of year for reflection and gratitude. Like many Angelenos, we are thankful for the wonderful local literary community that is thriving around the Los Angeles Public Library, including ALOUD veteran and Los Angeles Times columnist Meghan Daum. Before her critically acclaimed new book of essays, The Unspeakable and Other Subjects of Discussion, was published last month, we caught up with Daum about her love for the Los Angeles Public Library. “Every writer says this, but growing up, the library was my main place,” says Daum. “We moved a lot when I was younger and every time we would move it was like, ‘Here’s the library, so now you know where the library is—o.k., so now you’re here.’”


Daum has been no stranger to Central Library either. “I’m always so happy to come down here. I love the building—it’s an old building that feels like true L.A.” Daum referring to Central Library as “the genuine article” is the ultimate compliment from the author of several books concerned with the search for authenticity—including her newest collection as well as her celebrated first collection of essays, My Misspent Youth and her novel The Quality of Life Report.

Daum’s love for Central extends to her frequent appearances at ALOUD, where she has been in conversation with the likes of Jonathan Franzen (pictured above), Lionel Shriver, and Caille Millner. If you missed those events, you can listen to the free podcasts here—along with many other archived ALOUD programs.

And if you feel like sharing your love of the Los Angeles Public Library this season, consider becoming a Member of the Library Foundation. Now through December 31, when you become a Member, upgrade your existing Membership, or give the gift of Membership, a generous donor will match your gift dollar-for-dollar.


The Library Store: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

This season, find the gift that keeps on giving at The Library Store, where all purchases benefit the Los Angeles Public Library. Stop by in-person, online, or follow us on Twitter to see when The Library Store On Wheels is headed your way!  

If you’re not quite sure what to buy, we’ve got a few suggestions:

Pass the Peas

Bring the whole family together with this tasty word game!  It’s a perfect gift to challenge your child’s spelling skills.





Biobu by Ekobo

Give these eco-conscious bowl sets to that little foodie. Designed by Boo Louis and made from sustainable bamboo.





Eric the Memo Elephant

Eric is cute as well as functional. He’s the perfect gift for the person who has everything, but might need a friendly reminder.





Scrabble Coasters

Know someone who is a word-game enthusiast? They probably already have Scrabble, but do they have the classic word game coasters?




Lila by Marilynne Robinson

Any voracious reader will have this highly anticipated novel on their wish list. It’s bound to become an American classic.






Recipe Dice

Roll the dice on this gift. The master chef will love it.







Listen While You Cook

It’s a week of giving thanks! Of course we are always grateful for the Los Angeles Public Library, but as you prepare to gather your family and friends around the Thanksgiving table, let the Library help you get into the spirit of gratitude. Here’s a few favorite audiobooks available for free download from the Library to offer you a moment of respite amid the buzz of basting, mashing, and whipping. And don’t forget, as your loved ones curl up on the couch in the after-turkey haze, the Library also has hundreds of free movies to instantly stream.

California by Edan Lepucki


Angelenos don’t have to worry about arctic blasts this Thanksgiving, but local author Edan Lepucki has imagined a few other troubles on the horizon in her new postapocalyptic novel. The world Cal and Frida have always known is gone, and they’ve left the crumbling city of Los Angeles behind them. They now live in a shack in the wilderness, their days tolerable in the face of hardship and isolation. But their existence is thrown into doubt when Frida finds out she’s pregnant. Terrified of the unknown, they set out for the nearest settlement, a guarded and paranoid community. It can offer them security, but Cal and Frida soon realize this community poses dangers of its own.

The Good Lord Bird by James McBride

The Good Lord Bird

This year’s National Book Awards were just announced, so perhaps now’s the perfect time to catch up on last year’s winners. Henry Shackleford is a young slave living in the Kansas Territory in 1857, when the region is a battleground between anti- and pro-slavery forces. When John Brown, the legendary abolitionist, arrives in the area, an argument between Brown and Henry’s master quickly turns violent. An absorbing mixture of history and imagination, The Good Lord Bird is both a rousing adventure and a moving exploration of identity and survival.

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Cover of Madame Bovary

What better reminder to be grateful for what you have? In Madame Bovary, his story of a shallow, deluded, unfaithful, but consistently compelling woman living in the provinces of nineteenth-century France, Gustave Flaubert invented not only the modern novel but also a modern attitude toward human character and human experience that remains with us to this day.

Diet Cults by Matt Fitzgerald

Diet Cults

Before you feel guilty about that second piece of pumpkin pie, maybe you need to hear from the national bestselling author of Racing Weight, who exposes the irrationality, half-truths, and downright impossibility of a “single right way” to eat and reveals how to develop rational, healthy eating habits.

Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman

Orange Is the New Black

If you haven’t–or even if you have–already devoured the television series, then check out the absorbing book. With a career, a boyfriend, and a loving family, Piper Kerman barely resembles the reckless young woman who delivered a suitcase of drug money ten years ago. But that past has caught up with her. Convicted and sentenced to fifteen months at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, the well-heeled Smith College alumna is now inmate #11187-424, one of the millions of women who disappear “down the rabbit hole” of the American penal system.

Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Cover of Gift From the Sea

A classic token of gratitude. In this inimitable, graceful, lucid, and lyrical book, Anne Morrow Lindbergh shares her meditations on youth and age, love and marriage, peace, and contentment as she set them down during a brief vacation by the sea.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Library Foundation!


Zoning in on Ideal Study Spaces

How do you create a space where students will want to crack open their books after school? A space that’s safe and inviting, a space that’s cool, but also functional? “I think it’s really fun to create areas without architecture—like the idea of a treehouse,” says architect Cory Grosser. “If you’re a kid and you build a treehouse, it’s your space that’s separate from the house or from your parents, and there’s some independence and ownership of that space.” Cory Grosser Design + Strategy was contracted this fall by the Library Foundation to reimagine its Student Zones at 10 branch libraries.

Student Zones offer children and teens access to dedicated furniture, computers, and equipment during the after-school hours, including books, free printing, supplies, and learning resources. “Libraries are already a big draw for students—Student Zones are a central space within the Library where they can find the resources they need to complete homework and ultimately graduate high school and pursue their dreams,” says Imani Harris, an associate director at the Library Foundation who is overseeing the renovations of Student Zones.

By using modern furnishings, bright colors, and different seating postures—from stools with a laptop bar area to a sofa or floor seating—these new micro-spaces will accommodate the different work habits of all students. “I just wanted to make these spaces so that kids want to be there,” says Grosser. “Our belief is that good design will increase the usage of the Student Zones and that they will chose to attend their local library for after school activities because it is a cool and functional place to be.”

Last year, over 30,000 used Student Zones, and the Foundation hopes these improvements will inspire even more students to use these hubs, which also serve as access points to other free student resources like Live Homework Help and Student Smart. In addition to the redesign, Student Zone Helpers have been added at 15 branches to assist kids with their homework and computer questions, and the Foundation hopes to expand the zones to all 72 neighborhood libraries within the next five years.

Legend Carlos Santana Rocks the ALOUD Stage

To conclude an illuminating year of programming at ALOUD, come spend a magical evening with one of the most influential and visionary musicians of our time, Carlos Santana. On Monday, December 1st at the Orpheum Theatre, Santana will take the stage with Cheech Marin to share the story of his remarkable life as he discusses his new memoir, The Universal Tone. Santana’s soulful new memoir, which is receiving starred reviews from critics, reflects on his humble childhood in Mexico to his celebrated career as a guitarist that bloomed during San Francisco’s Summer of Love. As The Universal Tone is quickly becoming required reading for fans of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame artist, here’s a look at a few of Santana’s own recommended reads to get you amped up for his special appearance at ALOUD. Learn more about getting tickets to An Evening with Carlos Santana.

Many of these authors from Carlos’ Bookshelf can be found at the Los Angeles Public Library:

The Fifth Agreement
by Don Miguel Ruiz

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
by Eckhart Tolle

A Mini Course for Life
by Gerald Jampolsky, M.D. and Diane Cirincione, PH.D

End your story begin your life
by Jim Dreaver

The Body of Light
by Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki

And rounding out his reading list, recently on Twitter Santana called legendary jazz musician and composer Herbie Hancock’s new memoir Possibilities “required reading.” The book is now available at the Los Angeles Public Library.

Book Jacket for: Possibilities
Learn more about getting tickets to An Evening with Carlos Santana.
Mon, Dec 01, 7:30 PM [ALOUD]
The Orpheum Theatre
The Universal Tone: Bringing My Story to Light
In conversation with Cheech Marin
Main image: Carlos Santana (credit: RUBÉN MARTÍN)

Membership Matching Gift Challenge: Double Your Donation

The Library Foundation of Los Angeles is launching the 2014 Membership Matching Gift Challenge! Now through December 31, when you become a Member, upgrade your existing Membership, or give the gift of Membership to a friend or loved one, a generous donor will match your gift dollar-for-dollar!

In the Central Library and 72 neighborhood branch libraries, there are reading enrichment, educational and cultural programs, and new technology being offered free of charge to millions of children, teens, and adults. These would not be possible without the support of our Members. Your participation is critical; we need your help to meet this challenge.

Ways to Give:

  • Visit us online at
  • Call the Membership department at 213.292.6242
  • Mail your Membership form and payment to 630 W. Fifth Street, Los Angeles, CA 90071

Spread the Word!
Think of how many people you know who have been touched by libraries. Encourage your friends and loved ones to join the Library Foundation and give them the opportunity to help millions of people in Los Angeles realize their full potential by supporting equal access to ideas, books, information, and technology.

Take this opportunity to see your contribution go twice as far to enhance the programs, resources, and services of the Los Angeles Public Library. Give $50 and it becomes $100, convert a $250 gift into a $500 impact that will help transform Los Angeles through the power of our Library.

Pictured above Miranda July sharing an interesting read at a Young Literati event.

Get a Jump Start on Holiday Shopping

Jump start your holiday shopping by visiting The Library Store On Wheels at one of these upcoming stops:

Saturday 11/15 @ Artists & Fleas in Downtown LA 11am – 6pm

Sunday 11/16 @ Artists & Fleas in Downtown LA 11am – 6pm

Sunday 11/30 @ Patchwork: Santa Ana Edition 11am – 5pm

Sunday 12/7 @ German Christmas Market 10am – 4pm

Saturday 12/13 @ Renegade in Grand Park 10am – 5pm

Sunday 12/14 @ Renegade in Grand Park 10am – 5pm

Saturday 12/20 @ Artists & Fleas in Downtown LA 11am – 6pm

Sunday 12/21 @ Artists & Fleas in Downtown LA 11am – 6pm

See you there!

On the Horizon at ALOUD

Winter in Los Angeles is all about crisp, clear skies, and there’s definitely something in the stars coming up at ALOUD. From an influential astronomer and a CalTech cosmologist, to a legendary rock star and a comedic movie star, here’s what’s on the horizon at ALOUD this winter:

Kicking off the season, one of the most influential and celebrated musicians of our time – Carlos Santana – sits down with L.A.’s own Cheech Marin for a conversation about his remarkable life story and new memoir, The Universal Tone: Bringing My Story to Light. This special offsite program will take place at the historic Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 1. Tickets to this program include a signed copy of Santana’s book, and are available at

On Tuesday, Jan. 13, on the occasion of his book, Culture Crash: The Killing of the Creative Class, writer Scott Timberg assembles a panel of creative thinkers and doers to examine the roots of a creative crisis that has put booksellers, indie musicians, architects, and designers out of work and struggling to make a living.

Novelist Chang-rae Lee stops by ALOUD on Thursday, Jan. 15, for a conversation on alternate realities, the power of a riveting story to change the way we see the world, and his new work, On Such a Full Sea: A Novel. On Wednesday, Jan. 21, author Jeff Chang (Who We Be: The Colorization of America) and filmmaker Justin Simien (Dear White People) discuss how artists and young people are shaping the discussion about race in the waning days of the Obama era.

On Friday, Jan. 23, ALOUD heads offsite again for an evening with Patton Oswalt – comedian, actor, social media genius – at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills. During the evening, Oswalt will illuminate the story of his early days in the Los Angeles comedy scene and his unshakeable addiction to the New Beverly Cinema through his new book, Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film. Tickets on sale Nov. 7 at

In a very special program on Wednesday, Jan. 28, ALOUD hosts a conversation about the first-ever diary published by a still-imprisoned Guantánamo Bay detainee, Mohamedou Ould Slahi, who has never been charged with a crime. To discuss the book and case, legal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky interviews human rights activist and Slahi’s editor Larry Siems and Nancy Hollander, Slahi’s lawyer, whose practice is devoted to criminal cases (including that of Chelsea E. Manning) involving national security issues.

On Tuesday, Feb. 5, award-winning Los Angeles Times reporter Jill Leovy sits down with KCRW’s Warren Olney to tell the kaleidoscopic story of the quintessential American murder – one young black man slaying another – contained in her master work of literary journalism, Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America.

Leading comics theorist Scott McCloud wrote the book on how comics work (Understanding Comics). Now he vaults into fiction with The Sculptor, a spellbinding adult urban fable, which he shares at ALOUD with KCRW’s Elvis Mitchell on Tuesday, Feb. 10. Later that week, on Thursday, Feb. 12, influential astronomer Wendy L. Freedman and CalTech cosmologist Sean Carroll stop by ALOUD to discuss what literally could be on the horizon in this phenomenal period of scientific discovery.

On Tuesday, Feb. 17, in a special partnership with the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills’ Arts & Ideas series, ALOUD presents a conversation with David Axelrod. During the evening, Axelrod, the great strategist who masterminded Obama’s historic election campaigns, will open up about his years as a young journalist, political consultant, and ultimately Senior Advisor to the President – chronicled in his new book, Believer: My Forty Years in Politics – with NPR’s Emmy Award-winning reporter Michel Martin.  Tickets on sale Nov. 7 at

On Thursday, Feb. 19, in partnership with the Intercollegiate Department of Africana Studies of The Claremont Colleges, ALOUD welcomes artist, composer, and writer Paul D. Miller – also known as DJ Spooky – for a performance and conversation about Afrofuturism. And closing out the season on Tuesday, Feb. 24, two writers who studied fine art – Bernard Cooper (My Avant-Garde Education) and Benjamin Weissman (Headless) – discuss their personal transitions as visual artists to writers now returning to visual art.

The entire ALOUD Winter 2014-2015 calendar will be made available to the public at on Nov. 7, 2014, where you can make reservations to attend.

Main image: Carlos Santana (credit: RUBÉN MARTÍN)