We’re Nominated!

We are excited to announce that The Library Store and ALOUD have been nominated for the Best of Downtown by the Downtown News!

Best Free Event Series: ALOUD at the Central Library
Best Bookstore: The Library Store
Best Gift & Stationery Store: The Library Store

The Los Angeles Public Library has also made it on the Best of Downtown Ballot for:
Best Downtown Tours: Los Angeles Central Library Tour
Best Family Attraction: Central Library
Best-Looking Building: Central Library

Please go to VoteBestOf.com and vote for us by this Sunday, May 31st. We need your votes to win!

S U P E R S A L E ! ! ! ! !

It’s SUPER SALE time again at The Library Store!

Join us to shop hundreds of items marked 50 to 75% off, plus other items priced as marked.* Sale starts Friday 5/29 in Central Library’s Meeting Room A and continues:

  • Members Only Preview, Thursday 5/28: 5 pm – 7 pm
  • Members Only Preview, Friday 5/29: 9:30 am – 12 pm
  • Friday 5/29: 12 pm – 5:30 pm
  • Saturday 5/30: 9:30 am – 5:30 pm
  • Sunday 5/31: 1 pm – 5pm
  • Monday 6/1: 10 am – 7pm

Hope to see you there!

*No further discount on sale items.

Coming Soon to ALOUD: The Extraordinary Tracy K. Smith

Throughout the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet’s new memoir, Ordinary Light, radiant flashes of poetry permeate Tracy K. Smith’s narrative. With great empathy and attention to beauty, Smith recalls her childhood growing up in a sheltered Northern California town, and explores belief, loss, history, and what it means to be black in America. Set against the backdrop of her mother’s illness and death, Smith struggles to understand her mother’s faith until she finds peace and a prayer-like solace through poetry. Before she takes the ALOUD stage on Thursday, May 28 to discuss her moving account of a daughter’s journey, we caught up with Smith about the power of communing with language.

Both poetry and memoir are deeply personal types of writing. What sparked the need to write a memoir that poetry could not fulfill?
I wanted to get out of familiar territory with this story. I wanted to let go of the tools with which I as a poet was most familiar in order to truly explore and interrogate this material. I’d been writing about my mother in poems for a long time, but prose required me to ask different questions, go after different kinds of insights, say things more directly and interrogate the thought process on the page before the reader’s eyes.

How did your daily writing practice change when you transitioned from poetry to prose?
Well, I’d just become a mother when I started this book, so my writing practice had already undergone a major change. I had far less time to write, yet suddenly I had incentive to be far more productive, more efficient. It was great, because I had to push past any hesitation or fear rather quickly so that my writing windows wouldn’t be squandered. I also got over some of the fetishism I’d had the luxury of indulging: needing to be alone in order to write; needing to be in my comfortable, familiar writing space; needing a certain ritual in order to get started.

My revision process also changed radically when I switched to prose. I’ve always been one to revise poems, but working with an editor really taught me how prose is built one layer at a time. At least that’s how it happened for me. I’d write a chapter, and then go back and add another layer of concern, allowing the text to begin to converse with other chapters elsewhere in the book. And then I’d add another layer that allowed my adult self to interrogate the material a little bit, and another layer that did something else, and so on. It fostered a different degree of patience and a different, slower kind of dramatic arc.

Your memoir centers around the loss of your mother. What were the challenges and/or rewards of grappling with such a difficult subject?
It was thrilling to recreate the feeling of being in my mother’s presence. It was a gift to go back and allow these very specific memories to emerge. And yes, it was difficult to confront and acknowledge some of the unresolved conflicts that also characterized our relationship. But thinking things through in language was powerful, as was working with a memory until an insight that was previously unrealized began to announce itself. That kind of retrospection helped me to discover for the first time some of the constant themes running through my own life. Writing helped me, quite literally, make sense of the major experiences I had lived.

What were some of the other stories from your past that echoed in your memory and you wanted to explore on the page?
I wanted to talk about race. I wanted to record and examine what it felt like growing up black in California in the 1970s and 80s. I wanted to talk through some of my own religious preoccupations and clarify for myself what God has meant in my life.

In regards to exploring faith, you describe how the writing of poetry is a type of prayer. Many writers feel the opposite of being at peace while writing. How did poetry come to offer you a kind of inward serenity?
I’m not saying that writing is easy, or that it’s an instant route to inner peace. But being able to reflect upon and to listen to experience in a way that is markedly quieter and more complex than what happens in real-time, during the hectic, noisy, distracting day-to-day, does to me feel purposeful and centering. I think that prayer might be, for many people, a manner of reaching out to something larger and more meaningful than oneself; I feel the same way about poetry, even if what I am seeking to listen to or commune with is simply another region of my own mind. My shorthand for what I’m after when I’m writing is access to the unconscious. But I also hope it might even be possible to draw from sources of meaning that sit beyond the self.

ALOUD takes place at the Los Angeles Public Library; we’re curious if you have any connections to public libraries?
Oh of course! I spent afternoons after school all through my childhood wandering the aisles in the public library. And even as an adult, the Brooklyn and New York Public Libraries have brought me right back to that feeling of being a single small person in the presence of innumerable vast worlds, all lined up on the shelves and within reach.

Click here to make your free reservation to the program!
Thursday, May 28, 7:15 PM
Ordinary Light: A Memoir
Tracy K. Smith

In conversation with Lynell George

Los Angeles Public Library Awarded Nation’s Highest Library Honor

On Monday, First Lady Michelle Obama presented the Los Angeles Public Library with this year’s National Medal for Museum and Library Service on behalf of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Celebrating extraordinary and innovating approaches to public service, this award is the nation’s highest honor given each year to five libraries and five museums for service to the community.

Pictured: City Librarian John F. Szabo, Los Angeles community member Sergio Sanchez, and First Lady Michelle Obama.

The Los Angeles Public Library was selected for its success in improving the lives of Angelenos every day by providing a level of social, educational, and cultural services unmatched by any other public institution in the city. The award recognizes the Library’s many programs that help people on their path to citizenship, earn their high school diploma, manage their personal finances, and access health and well-being services and resources, among others like specialized programs for veterans.

City Librarian John F. Szabo accepted the award during a White House ceremony, along with Board of Library Commisioners Member Mai Lassiter and Los Angeles community members Sergio and Francisca Sanchez, who were selected to represent the millions of Angelenos whose lives have been improved by the Library. After emigrating from Mexico 24 years ago, the Sanchezes used the library resources to improve their English, pursue their GEDs and become U.S. citizens.

Congressman Xavier Becerra (CA-34) said, “For over 140 years, the Los Angeles Public Library has served our diverse community of Angelenos with dedication and excellence. Under the superb leadership of City Librarian John F. Szabo, the Library has become a pioneer in delivering innovative and groundbreaking services to all members of the community.”

The Library Foundation would like to join Congressman Becerra in congratulating the Los Angeles Public Library for this well deserved recognition!


From the Archives: Mad Men

As we bid farewell to Mad Men and the series finale that AMC’s marketing team climatically promoted as “the end of an era,” we combed through the Los Angeles Public Library’s archives to look at some of the real ads of this era. Just like many of the cutting-edge campaigns that Don Draper and team masterminded, these advertisements from archived issues of Westways and Playboy magazines offer a snapshot of the social and cultural climates of their times through humor, sarcasm, lust and wanderlust, and the ever-timely dose of nostalgia.

From Playboy, 1961:

From Playboy, 1964:

From Playboy, 1968:

From Playboy, 1970:

From Westways, 1967:

To continue exploring other images from this inspirational era, browse the Los Angeles Public Library’s photo collection. If you are not up-to-date on the last season of Mad Men, you can check out previous seasons of Mad Men from your local library.

Enter to Win—Judy Blume Giveaway!

Beloved storyteller Judy Blume has won the hearts and minds of readers of all ages. With classics like Wifey, Deenie, Freckle Juice, and Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, many of us Blume fans have one book that we hold especially dear to our hearts. What’s your favorite? Blume comes to ALOUD on June 9 for a special evening at the Aratani Theatre to discuss her most recent novel and distinguished career, and we’re giving away two free tickets to the program.

To enter for a chance to win, leave a comment telling us which of Judy Blume’s books is your favorite and why it means the most to you. Post your comment here or retweet our contest announcement to @aloudla with your answer and  #BlumeLA before noon on next Friday, May 22 and we’ll select one lucky winner. Learn more about Blume’s upcoming ALOUD program here. Good luck!

Untold Stories: Jennifer Clement at ALOUD

Based on a lifetime of living in Mexico and some 10 years of interviewing and listening to the stories of the female survivors and victims of Mexico’s gruesome drug culture, award-winning author Jennifer Clement delivers a deeply poignant novel about hope in the face of darkness.  Former ALOUD participant and author Francisco Goldman calls the work, “Beguiling, and even crazily enchanting…gives us words for what we haven’t had words for before.”

In today’s Mexico, truth tellers are murdered, journalists are disappeared. As a novelist, poet, human rights activist, and former President of PEN Mexico, Clement lives ever-so-close to that world, and decided to turn to fiction to tell this story, one that remains hauntingly close to real life, in her latest work, Prayers for the Stolen.

This visceral novel sheds light on the fate of young women in rural Guerrero who live in the shadows of the drug war. In the words of Clement, “Prayers for the Stolen is a novel about Ladydi Garcia Martínez. She is part of a community, like so many in rural Mexico, that has been decimated by drug traffickers, government agricultural policies and illegal immigration. Her home is a village near the once glamorous port of Acapulco. Her story, although inspired by truth, is fiction.”

Join us at ALOUD on Thursday, May 14, for an eye-opening conversation with Jennifer Clement moderated by writer Magdalena Edwards.  Simultaneous interpretation into Spanish will be provided by Antena Los Ángeles, as part of ALOUD’s collaboration with LéaLA, Feria del Libro en Español de Los Ángeles, in which Clement will also participate the weekend following ALOUD.  Read an excerpt below from Clement’s powerful book, and make your free reservation for the ALOUD program here.

Prayers for the Stolen by Jennifer Clement- Excerpt

Reminder: Mother’s Day is Just Around the Corner!

Moms are our favorite people. They deserve only the very best on Mother’s Day. So, why not pamper them with something awesome from The Library Store? Whether it’s a scarf, a book, or a journal, we have something that will make her really happy.

Here are some of our suggestions:

Pictured: Los Angeles Sunset Scarf, $125; Mom: Because of You book, $12.95; Pocket Composition Book, $8.75; Confetti Felt Coasters, $30; Turquoise Color Block Pouch, $15.

Oh, and our cards are sure to make her smile too…



Start Your Summer at ALOUD

With all the sunshine and high temps this week, it certainly feels like summer is quickly approaching. What better way to ring in the new season than making plans for ALOUD? This summer, the Library Foundation of Los Angeles’ critically-acclaimed ALOUD series presents an exceptional slate of original programming celebrating great writers, epic poetry, and the history of food in Los Angeles.

Kicking off the season on Tuesday, June 9, ALOUD welcomes one of America’s most beloved storytellers, Judy Blume. In conversation with KPCC host Alex Cohen at the Aratani Theatre in Little Tokyo, Blume will discuss her classic work, passionate advocacy for the freedom to read, and her newest novel for adults, In the Unlikely Event. Tickets can be purchased here and are on sale now.

As part of the Library Foundation’s upcoming project exploring the Los Angeles Public Library’s menu collection, ALOUD presents two exciting panel discussions: On Sunday, June 14, Josh Kun, professor and author of To Live and Dine in L.A.: Menus and the Making of the Modern City, convenes local chefs Joachim Splichal (Patina Group), Cynthia Hawkins (Hawkins House of Burgers), and Ricardo Diaz (Colonia Publica) for a conversation on L.A. food past and present. And on Tuesday, July 14, Kun brings together urban gardener Ron Finley, the Healthy School Food Coalition’s Elizabeth Medrano, and Community Services Unlimited’s Neelam Sharma to discuss the struggles and triumphs of contemporary food activism – or, how we live and eat in L.A.

On Tuesday, June 30, three poets pose the question: “What is it about Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” that so deeply resonates across different cultures?” Poet Christopher Merrill joins poets and translators Luis Albert Ambroggio and Sholeh Wolpé and musician Sabba Motellebi for an evening of music and poetry in English, Persian and Spanish.

Join journalist Lynell George and writer Marisela Norte as they debut a new collaboration on the ALOUD stage on Thursday, July 9. “Love, Los Angeles: A Conversation in Words and Images,” is an on-going project to navigate the quickly-changing landscape of contemporary Los Angeles through photographs and text. Frosty of dublab will also be throwing in a live DJ mix for the program.

Two of today’s most thought-provoking and intimately honest essayists, Meghan Daum (The Unspeakable) and Leslie Jamison (The Empathy Exams), meet on the ALOUD stage on Thursday, July 23 to share their work as they grapple with the modern complexities of being human.

And closing out the season on Wednesday, July 29, Emmy Award-winning composer Laura Karpman with soprano Janai Brugger perform a special adaptation of Karpman’s vocal, orchestral, and visual performance of the Langston Hughes’ poem, “Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz.”

View the full ALOUD summer 2015 calendar at lfla.org/aloud. Did you know that Library Foundation Members receive advance notice of ALOUD programs? Learn more about becoming a Member here.

Celebrate Independent Bookstore Day with The Library Store!

Join The Library Store in a country-wide celebration of books and independent bookstores this Saturday May 2!

To commemorate the day, we’re hosting an “after party” for Los Angeles Public Library’s program “Southern California Surf Music, 1960 – 1966” with author John Blair. We’ll be snacking on tasty treats and sipping on tasty drinks.

We’ll also be selling exclusive merchandise only available on Independent Bookstore Day at participating locations. Here’s a sneak peak:

Hope to see you there!