Spring Break at the Library

It’s spring break for many students around Los Angeles this week and next. If you are looking to keep your young ones engaged outside of the classroom, head over to any branch of the Los Angeles Public Library. With a wide range of free programs for children and teens, there’s no break at the Library from learning, reading, playing, and some much needed relaxing. Here’s a few highlights from the Library’s full upcoming calendar of events.

http://jpg3.lapl.org/pics46/00072502.jpg

NoHo Teens Yoga Club
Tuesday, April 7
North Hollywood Amelia Earhart Regional Library
Practicing yoga helps teens develop the body-mind connection which not only improves body image but also promotes better posture and even alleviates stress. Join us at NoHo library to learn some breathing and relaxation exercises to get you through that stressful school day.

LA Youth Poet Laureate 5-Week Teen Poetry Workshop
Tuesday, April 7

Will & Ariel Durant Branch Library
Do you have what it takes to be Los Angeles’ next Teen Poet Laureate? This 5-week poetry workshop is your opportunity to workshop your poetry or hip hop with professional writers and prepare your portfolio for city-wide competition. Refreshments will be provided.

Magnetic Poetry for Teens
Tuesday, April 14
Washington Irving Branch Library
Come learn to make a magnetic poetry set! Supplies provided; space is limited. This program is presented in celebration of National Poetry Month.

STEAMIN’ SPRING BREAK SCRATCH Camp
Tuesday, March 31 thru Friday, April 3
Baldwin Hills Branch Library
Kids eight years and up are invited to spend spring break learning to create code for making games, animated apps, storytelling and more. This is a four day camp. Commitment to attend all sessions is required. Computers are provided or campers can bring their own laptops. Space is limited. Advance registration recommended. Call 323.733.1196 to enroll.

Camp Minecraft
Wednesday, April 8
Venice – Abbot Kinney Memorial Branch Library
LA Makerspace will teach us how to participate in an interconnected world, where skills in online collaboration and coding are more valuable than ever! Space limited to 15 people. Sign up at the Information Desk. Ages 8-14.

Make It Mondays: Building Bricks
Monday, April 6
Arroyo Seco Regional Library
Join us for a hands-on activity each Monday at 4:00 pm…it’s MAKE IT MONDAYS! On April 6 and 20 we will be creating masterpieces with (4 letter brand name) building bricks.

There’s so many other ways students can take part in the Library’s many activities, including volunteer programs for teens at their local branch. Learn more today!

Top Photo Credit: “Coronado school is in session” from the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Archive.

A Day in the Life of a City Librarian

When your job is to oversee the country’s largest and most diverse public library system, no two days are the same. City Librarian John Szabo is marking his third anniversary at the Los Angeles Public Library this fall, and he’s made it his mission to stay personally connected to the frontline of the Library and the work of his staff at Central Library and each of the 72 branches. Here’s how he connects throughout the day.


Szabo kicks off the special exhibit No Further West: The Story of Los Angeles Union Station.

Head Start
Before I get out of bed in the morning, I’m looking at e-mail to get ahead of the messages. I read the L.A. Times digitally for the news, and then I consume lots of coffee.

Off to City Hall
An interesting first meeting I recently had was at City Hall over an initiative of the Mayor’s that builds on the work the Library has already been doing on citizenship and naturalization. The mayors of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles have jointly launched  “Cities for Citizenship,” which emphasizes the importance of citizenship, including the economic impact of it. At this meeting, the Mayor’s office convened multiple nonprofits around the table to work with us in this space of citizenship, which the Library is very much at the center.

Szabo talking to City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell and staffer.

Poetry Before Noon
One late morning back at Central Library, the Mayor stopped by to announce Luis Rodríguez as our new Poet Laureate of L.A. Although we do so much great programming around poetry from the teen poetry slams to the ALOUD programs bringing in poet laureates of the United States, this occasion was particularly significant for us because the poet Luis Rodríguez has a long and wonderful relationship with the Los Angeles Public Library. We will so be looking forward to the year ahead with him and his poetry programs for children, teens, and adults.

Central Hub
For lunch, I might grab a salad and eat it at my desk as I prepare for an upcoming board meeting. At our next board meeting, we are accepting a generous gift from the Friends of the Library Group and we are discussing the strategic plan for the Library. Being at the Central Library, it’s easy to go in and out and see our staff and pop into The Library Store and do a little shopping—I absolutely love anything “hardcore library.” I recently got a pair of library card socks and the library card iPhone case. I bought my partner a fantastic grilled cheese cookbook.

At Central, we also have our big staff meetings in the Taper Auditorium with all 72 branch managers. I particularly enjoy seeing everyone from Eagle Rock to San Pedro together in one place, and I love the one-on-one conversations afterwards to hear what’s happening in the communities and with our very big staff.

Checkup
Also at Central Library, I might have a meeting with the community health councils to talk about our “Know Your Digits,” campaign, which is occurring in seven of our branch libraries as part of our “Health Matters” initiative. We are trying to leverage the physical presence of libraries as trusted, valued institutions to fight health issues and disparities in particular areas of Los Angeles with high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease by helping people get screened.

Dreams Come True
Once in awhile, I’ll have a meeting cancel that will free up my afternoon, so over the last two years I use this time to go out and visit branches. I’ve now visited 65 of the 73 branches—only 8 left to go! I absolutely love going out and visiting our branches because every single one is different—they are different architecturally, the staff is different, the collections are different, the services are different—and all are uniquely positioned to serve their community. The branches are always packed with families or some kind of children’s program like “Storytime.” Recently, I visited the Platt Branch in the West Valley and I got to see an English language study course in action—students from Korea and Guatemala and Mexico and Croatia. It’s the dream of the City Librarian to see these wonderful scenes happening over and over at each branch.

Szabo at the 2014 Book Drop Bash with authors T.C. Boyle and Mona Simpson.

After Hours
My assistant and I are usually in the office until at least six or a little after, and then there’s often evening meetings or events. Sometimes it’s something at City Hall or a Library Foundation event. I love being the “library guy” and representing the Los Angeles Public Library 24-7-365.

When I get home, if I have time, I do some reading. I’m an only child and my dad is a single parent, so my father and I are best friends. He lives in Montgomery, Alabama and is retired, and ever since I went off to college at 18, he has sent me clippings in the mail of interesting things to read. I, as I’m able, do the same. In the evening, it’s a real pleasure and treasure to read through what he’s sent.

Learn more about all the initiatives of the Los Angeles Public Library here.

 

 

12 Months of the Los Angeles Public Library

Every year thousands of Angelenos take part in the many educational and cultural programs, resources, and services at the Los Angeles Public Library. Before we look ahead to what will be an exciting new year at the Library, here’s a look back at some of the diverse activities supported by the Library Foundation in 2014. Thanks to all of our Members for joining us throughout the year and for making these invaluable experiences free and available to all.

January
ALOUD kicked-off a new year of eclectic programming unique to L.A. and the Library. In January, ALOUD paid tribute to Los Angeles’ unofficial poet laureate, Wanda Coleman, to honor what she did for poetry and who she was in Los Angeles: ­a larger-than-life figure who for decades reminded us how to be our own most authentic selves.

February
The Library Foundation’s coziest fundraiser of the year, The Stay Home and Read a Book Ball, took place, inviting Angelenos to support the Los Angeles Public Library without leaving their homes. Last year, folks stayed home in record numbers–raising the most funds ever in the long history of this favorite event! Save the date for the 2015 ball on March 1st.

March
Young Literati Members gathered with L.A.’s best and brightest for the Sixth Annual Young Literati Toast to raise funds for the Los Angeles Public Library’s “Summer Reading Clubs.”  The evening featured Young Literati Chair Amanda Fairey, emcee Busy Philipps, and music by Moby and Jenny Lewis, along with readings and comedic interludes from Nick Kroll, Lizzy Caplan, and Tig Notaro.

April
After flocks of authors and booklovers strolled the lawns of USC for the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books last April, participating authors and Library Foundation Members continued celebrating the literary life of this city late into the night at the Third Annual “Book Drop Bash” with more than 400 people gathering at the downtown Central Library.

May
A new exhibit marking the 75th anniversary of Union Station opened at the Central Library. No Further West: The Story of Los Angeles Union Station was the first exhibition to examine the significance of the architectural design and cultural politics of the historic station, and included a series of related events like ALOUD panels and a changing display of model trains by various train clubs throughout Southern California.

June
The “Summer Reading Club” kicked off to foster literacy and learning while students were out of school last summer. Los Angeles Public Library’s longest running program motivated over 30,000 kids to crack the books and engage in innovative ways with storytelling.

July
The Library Foundation welcomed Ellen Lipson in her new role as President of The Council. Throughout the year, The Council hosted many special programs and fundraising events to benefit and raise awareness for the Los Angeles Public Library like a special evening and book signing with Norman Lear.

August
The Young Literati gathered in Santa Monica for a proper send-off to the season of long sunsets and frosty cocktails. The Summer Social offered Members the chance to raise their glasses to this past year of incredible support for the Los Angeles Public Library, and also get a sneak peek of what’s on the horizon for this dedicated group of engaged and informed Angelenos.

September
Supporters of the Library Foundation gathered at the historic California Club to celebrate the Foundation’s 22nd anniversary with a gala to benefit the great Los Angeles Public Library. This year’s benefit honored Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Junot Díaz with the Los Angeles Public Library Literary Award and bestselling author Judith Krantz with the Foundation’s Light of Learning Award for her devoted advocacy for the Los Angeles Public Library.

October
Throughout the month, Angelenos joined the Library Foundation and the Los Angeles Public Library for an epic quest to reinterpret Homer’s The Odyssey through a Southern California lens. With over 70 Odyssey-themed activities at the branch libraries for children, teens, and adults, including bike riding with the Cyclops and pop-up appearances by a commemorative Homer Simpson poster, the Odyssey Project culminated with a marathon reading of the epic poem at the Central Library.

November
ALOUD’s award-winning series journeyed to the west side as critically acclaimed Irish novelist Colm Tóibín was interviewed by New York Times bestselling L.A. local Rachel Kushner. The pair took the stage at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills for a conversation about Tóibín’s new novel, Nora Webster, while also discussing their shared passion for some of literature’s most memorable characters.

December
The Library Store got their motors running for the holiday season and sent The Library Store On Wheels to sites across the city to offer unique gifts from our carefully curated collection that gives back to the Los Angeles Public Library.

Happy New Year from the Library Foundation!

Look back at other great photos from the year here.

If you are not a Member already, please consider becoming a Library Foundation Member today to take part in these special events.

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.

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 lfla.org/aloud.

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 lfla.org/aloud.

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 lfla.org/aloud.

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 lfla.org/aloud on Nov. 7, 2014, where you can make reservations to attend.

Main image: Carlos Santana (credit: RUBÉN MARTÍN)

 

Spooky Reads for the Young at Heart

Librarians in the Los Angeles Public Library’s Children’s Literature Department love Halloween season and they celebrate by sharing their favorite books with the young and young at heart. Here is a sampling of some fun and slightly spooky reads for the youngest children in your life, specially curated by Madeline J. Bryant, Senior Librarian, Children’s Literature Department.

Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara
Book Jacket for: Ghosts in the house!

A young witch moves into a haunted house and puts the ghosts there to work. High contrast black, white and orange illustrations and a warm, satisfying ending make this particularly good for preschoolers.

 

 


Not Very Scary
by Carol Brendler

Book Jacket for: Not very scary
Melly the monster faces her fears as she encounters a host of creepy creatures while out walking on “the scariest night of the year”. But she’s not scared…or is she? Silly rhymes, alliteration and counting make this a great group read-aloud or for sharing one-on-one.

 

Pumpkin Trouble by Jan Thomas

Book Jacket for: Pumpkin trouble

Duck carves a jack-o-lantern for Halloween but accidentally falls in. Pig and Mouse are then terrified by a scary “pumpkin monster”. A laugh-out-loud crowd pleaser that fans of Mo Willems will appreciate.

 

 

 

Space Case by James Marshall

Book Jacket for: Space case
A small robot-like creature lands on earth on Halloween night and fits right in with the trick-or-treaters. He moves in with Buddy and even helps him on a space project at school. A humorous Halloween classic.

 

For older kids craving a few more chills and thrills, try these gripping titles:

Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Book Jacket for: The graveyard book
An action-packed adventure about growing up in a graveyard, being raised by ghosts, and escaping a killer, as told by master-storyteller Gaiman.

 

 

 

Night Gardener: A Scary Story by Jonathan Auxier

Book Jacket for: The Night Gardener : a scary story
Irish orphans Molly, fourteen, and Kip, ten, travel to England to work as servants in a crumbling manor house where nothing is quite what it seems to be, and soon the siblings are confronted by a mysterious stranger and secrets of the cursed house.

 

 

 

Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi

Book Jacket for: Zombie baseball beatdown
While practicing for their next baseball game, thirteen-year-old friends Rabi, Miguel, and Joe discover that the nefarious activities of the Delbe, Iowa, meatpacking plant have caused cows to turn into zombies.

 

 

 

Boneshaker by Kate Milford

Book Jacket for: The Boneshaker
Deals with the Devil and the fight between good and evil are at the crux of this novel in which nothing is as it seems.  A sophisticated, historical thriller for tween readers ages 10 & up.

 

 

 

Find all of these spooky reads and more at the Los Angeles Public Library.

The Epic Embarks Across Los Angeles

It’s October, which means The L.A. Odyssey Project will begin its journey into the neighborhoods of Los Angeles to explore the connections between literature, history, science, and the humanities to shine a distinctly Southern California light on Homer’s epic poem. From a Cyclops puppet show, to bike riding with Lotus Eaters, to a marathon public reading, here’s a sample of the many ways you can chart your own voyage into Homer’s The Odyssey across Los Angeles this October. For a full calendar of upcoming events, visit www.lfla.org/odyssey.

Artist engagement: Los Angeles artist Peter Shire is re-imagining a modern day Greek vase with a distinctly Southern California perspective. He has been inspired by the collection at The Getty Villa and by the individual Odyssey of an iconic Los Angeleno.

Ongoing throughout October, Los Angeles Public Library Branch programs in each region: These will be envisioned by some of our greatest resources, the creative and innovative public librarians. There will be more than 90 events in total, spread over 15 branches in the Los Angeles Public Library system.

October 2: ‘Homer… the Rewrite’ ALOUD at Central Library

Madeline Miller and Zachary Mason, in conversation with Molly Pulda
Zachary Mason’s brilliant debut novel, The Lost Books of the Odyssey, reimagines Homer’s epic story of the warrior Odysseus’ long journey home with alternative episodes, fragments, and revisions. Madeline Miller’s retelling of The IliadThe Song of Achilles – offers a fresh take of the Trojan War that was both an homage to Homer and a startlingly original work of art. Together at ALOUD for the first time, these two brilliant young novelists discuss the art of rewriting a classic.

October 4: Commit a Poem to Memory Day. In ancient Greece, oral poets known as rhapsodes, committed epics to memory and recited them for the entertainment of the public.  Because of this tradition, The Odyssey survived for centuries before it was finally written down. On October 4, we will celebrate the oral tradition with “Commit a Poem to Memory Day.”  If The Odyssey seems too daunting, we can recommend Constantine Cavafy’s poem “Ithaka” which is about the odyssey we all undertake to find our own home.

October 5: The L.A. Odyssey Project at CicLAvia

Bicyclists will be invited to decorate their bikes and join along in an Odyssian journey that will include encounters with The Odyssey’s Lotus Eaters, Cyclops and the Sirens in downtown Los Angeles.

October 9: ‘An Odyssey of The Odyssey’ at The HAMMER Museum. In this unique one-night only event, writer/director and media artist Lars Jan brings together the worlds of theater, network science and data visualization to create a trans-disciplinary narrative for the digital age. Collaborating with actor Roger Guenveur Smith, the MAPPR team: ecologist Eric Berlow, data artist/designer David Gurman and computer scientist Kaustuv DeBiswas, and classics researcher Daniel Powazek, Jan will take us on a journey to experience the ripple effect of creative influence which Homer’s Odyssey has inspired across time, space and culture.

October 10: ‘A Strange Thing Happened on the Way to Ithaca’

Lost & Found at the Movies at Central Library. The Odyssey has inspired filmmakers around the world from George Melies in the earliest days of cinema to the Coen brothers in recent years. What is it about the epic poem that entices the cinematic imagination? What did we learn from the ancient Greeks about storytelling? What did we learn about Homer from Hollywood (and is any of it right)? And just how does all that swordplay happen? Celebrate the Library Foundation’s month-long exploration of The Odyssey with this look at the larger-than-life tale on film.

October 15: Alice Oswald at HAMMER Museum. Acclaimed British poet and Classicist Alice Oswald recites – from memory – her epic poem, “Memorial: An Excavation of the Iliad.” Described as “a concentrated, intense, multi-tasking elegy” Memorial is poetry on a grand scale that brings the account of the Trojan War into contemporary focus. Recipient of the inaugural Ted Hughes Award, Alice Oswald has also won the T.S. Elliot Award and the Warwick Prize for Writing.

October 16: Alice Oswald at the Getty Villa. Renowned British poet and Classicist Alice Oswald, whose elegiac “Memorial: An Excavation of the Iliad” won the 2013 Warwick Prize for Writing, shares her thoughts about Light as a character in The Odyssey and reads a poem on the subject.

October 18: Peter Shire in conversation with Mary Hart at the Getty Villa

L.A. artist Peter Shire joins Getty Villa curator Mary Hart for a conversation about ancient and contemporary storytelling through art. The tour features a presentation of Shire’s recent interpretation of a Greek vase, which sets the tale of Odysseus in contemporary Los Angeles. In the galleries, explore the ancient Greek vases that inspired his new work.

October 25: ‘Our Odyssey: A Reading of Homer’s Epic Poem By the People and For the People’ at Central Library. The words of the poet Homer were originally spoken aloud to rapt audiences who sat spellbound by tales of kings and heroes, battles and sorrow. Relive the experience of this oral tradition by taking part in an exciting daylong marathon reading of The Odyssey at the historic Central Library in downtown Los Angeles. Readers of all ages and backgrounds are invited to participate in this unique opportunity to bring this thrilling tale of the voyage of Odysseus to life and to enjoy the experience of reading poetry aloud. This program will be presented in association with The Readers of Homer, an organization that stages public readings of Homer’s epics around the world. During the day-long reading, Central Library will come alive with Odyssey-themed shadow puppet shows, food trucks, Cyclops sightings, arts and crafts, and more.

October 26: Libros Schmibros Book Club at HAMMER Museum. James Joyce scholar Colleen Jaurretche will lead the group in considering the relationship between Homer’s Odyssey and Joyce’s Ulysses.

October 27: ‘The Warrior’s Return: From Surge to Suburbia’ ALOUD at Central Library

David Finkel and Skip Rizzo, in conversation with Tom Curwen
When we ask young men and women to go to war, what are we asking of them? When their deployments end and they return – many of them are changed forever.  How do they recover some facsimile of normalcy? MacArthur award-winning author David Finkel discusses the struggling veterans he chronicled in his deeply affecting book, Thank You for Your Service, with Dr. Albert “Skip” Rizzo, Director for Medical Virtual Reality at the Institute for Creative Technologies, who has pioneered the use of virtual reality-based exposure therapy to treat veterans suffering from PTSD.

For more information on these events, and to learn more about The L.A. Odyssey Project, related reading, and more visit the website here.

 

The Library Foundation Celebrates 22 Years

“This is a great Library and it has a wonderful history because it is a Phoenix of a Library. It was reborn from ashes,” said Susan Sontag of the Los Angeles Public Library. On September 20, the Library Foundation of Los Angeles will celebrate its 22nd anniversary with a gala to benefit the great Los Angeles Public Library. Held biannually, the anniversary festivities raise funds for three major program areas supported by the Foundation: Investing in New Readers, Helping Students Succeed, and Creating the Innovative Library of the Future. Over the last two decades, the Foundation has brought together a community of supporters to celebrate the legacy of the Los Angeles Public Library by honoring authors including Susan Sontag, philanthropists, individuals, foundations, and corporations who all share a commitment to the mission of the Los Angeles Public Library and a passion for great literature.


Larry McMurty and Diane Keaton, 2008.

This year, the Library Foundation pays tribute to Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Junot Díaz with the Los Angeles Public Library Literary Award. Presented to an author for his or her outstanding contribution to literature, the Literary Award has also been given to Salman Rushdie, Walter Mosley, Tom Brokaw, August Wilson, Carlos Fuentes, John Updike, and E.L.Doctorow, among some of the other notable writers below.

Louise Erdrich in 1997.


Tony Kushner (far left) pictured with ALOUD’s Louise Steinman in 2007.
Stephen King (right) in 2010.


Norman Mailer, 2006.


David McCollough (left) in 2002.

During this year’s celebration, bestselling author Judith Krantz will also receive the Foundation’s Light of Learning Award for her devoted advocacy for the Los Angeles Public Library. Former Light of Learning recipients include Sharon and Nelson Rising, The Ahmanson Foundation, the Mark Taper Foundation, Wallis Annenberg, Gary Ross, and other longtime supporters.


Doris Kearns Goodwin (Literary Award Winner in 2000) with Gregory Peck (Light of Learning Recipient in 1996).



Seamus Heaney (on the left, Literary Award Winner in 1998) with Flora Thornton (Light of Learning Recipient in 1998).


Harper Lee (on the right, Literary Award Winner in 2005) with Veronique Peck (Light of Learning Recipient in 2009).

Thanks to all the supporters of the Library Foundation over the years who have contributed to providing free access to ideas and information and the civic, cultural, and educational core of our community.

An Epic Quest Coming Soon: The L.A. Odyssey Project

Since the 8th century BCE, Homer’s haunting epic poem, The Odyssey, has spoken to audiences about what it means to struggle and endure as human beings. The Greek poem follows the hero Odysseus on his action-packed journey home after fighting in the ten-year Trojan War. As he encounters numerous obstacles along the way—from one-eyed giants to fantastical enchantresses—Odysseus’ wife Penelope assumes the leadership of his kingdom in his absence, warding off pressure from suitors eager to assume his wealth and power. Meanwhile, her son Telemachus sets off on his own voyage of (self) discovery to determine the fate of his father.

Almost every reader has some kinship with the archetypal characters and situations that The Odyssey represents, and this October, the Library Foundation of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Public Library invite readers across the city to rethink one of literature’s classic and heroic stories: The Odyssey. Throughout the month, the Foundation and Library will present The L.A. Odyssey Project, a month-long city-wide quest to consider what Homer’s epic tale of adventure and endurance means to Los Angeles readers today.

The L.A. Odyssey Project will journey into each of the neighborhoods of Los Angeles to explore the intimate connections between literature, history, science and the humanities to understand The Odyssey in the light of living in Southern California today. “The grand themes of The Odyssey can be retold for every generation because they provide cautionary tales and inspiration in the face of extreme adversity,” explains Rebecca Rickman, the Executive Producer of the project. “The difficulties—both physical and metaphysical—of reintegration which Odysseus encounters on the journey and with his family and his community upon his return to Ithaca—bear an uncanny resemblance to the problems facing our own troops coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan. We saw this parallel as a golden opportunity to demonstrate how narrow the gap is between the ancient past and the present.”

The multi-faceted and multi-disciplinary project will feature a range of ways for audiences to experience the ancient text. From epic bicycle rides, to the re-imagining of a classical Greek vase by artist Peter Shire (pictured above and below) depicting the tale of Odysseus in L.A., to a special look at Homer-inspired films, The L.A. Odyssey Project will offer contemporary audiences the chance to draw their own conclusions about the relevance of Homer in their lives.

Librarians across 15 branches of the Los Angeles Public Library system will envision over 70 events for patrons of all ages. From building Greek vases (pictured throughout this post) with 3D printers to an odyssey through space with Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientists, from reading clubs for all ages to Cyclops puppet shows, library patrons across the Southland will have the opportunity to engage with the story like never before.

“From Venice to Eagle Rock, San Pedro to Sylmar, our patrons and library staff had such a great time exploring Moby Dick together as a community last year, that we are thrilled to do the same with The Odyssey,” said City Librarian John F. Szabo. “As the cultural hub of our city, the Los Angeles Public Library is the ideal place to rediscover and rethink classic and influential pieces of literature.”

In honor of the oral tradition that allowed Homer to capture the story in writing, the project will culminate on Saturday, October 25 with a seven-hour marathon recitation of the poem by the public at the Central Library. Learn more about this reading, and all the other events upon which you can embark during October at lfla.org/odyssey and stay tuned on this blog for more details.

School’s In Session at the Los Angeles Public Library

Fall means back-to-school, but at the Los Angeles Public Library learning never ceases. From assisting students enrolled in summer classes with research and resources to advising students on their school reading lists, librarians just wrapped up a busy season, including motivating over 30,000 kids to crack the books through the Summer Reading Clubs. As part of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s “Summer of Learning,” kids across the city were given badges for taking part in educational programs like a game designing workshop live-streamed to several neighborhood libraries. Hitting the ground running, LAPL’s librarians are energized and ready with a full slate of programs and resources to help students have a successful new school year.

With the recent adoption of Common Core State Standards for schools in California, there’s a greater emphasis on digital learning than ever before, so many of the Library’s resources like Student Zones are evolving to address the changing needs of students. Offering computers, study tables and homework supplies, including access to free electronic resources, online tutoring, and free printouts, Student Zones provide a safe, focused place for kids to study after school. Supported by the Library Foundation, Student Zones at 10 neighborhood libraries will be newly renovated for the fall, and Student Zone Helpers will be added to 15 branches to assist kids with their homework and computer questions.

“Our Student Zone has proven to be an invaluable resource to students,” explains Justin Sugiyama, a Young Adult Librarian at Benjamin Franklin Branch. “In our community many families cannot afford computers or Internet access so there is a real need.” With students being tasked to use online resources, as well as become proficient with digital media, the need for technological support is ever-expanding. “Librarians in general are very tech savvy, love to teach, and can provide both students and teachers with instruction in the use of digital resources such as electronic journal databases and online catalogs,” says Sugiyama.

Logo

Beyond helping students with current assignments, the Los Angeles Public Library is also committed to paving the path for lifelong learning. Made possible by generous donors of the Library Foundation, Student Smart offers full-length practice tests (SAT, PSAT, ACT), plus workshops and seminars to build study skills and prepare students for college. Recently, middle school students were invited to take part in a Student Smart College Motivational seminar at Central Library. “Only 5% of adults above age 25 in our community are college graduates,” says Sugiyama. “Hearing presentations and discussions on overcoming challenges from a panel of successful college graduates on the importance of higher education can make a real impact on young peoples lives here.”

Patsy Tuck, a librarian at the Eagle Rock Branch, is excited about the upcoming five-part SAT Preparation series as part of the Student Smart program, which is expanding from 5 branches to 12 for the 2014/2015 school year. “I’m always struck by the overwhelming positive reviews on surveys from teens,” says Tuck about Student Smart, which is the only program to offer free SAT prep in the entire city. Tuck believes the Library is a lifeline, “We are vital to the educational health of the City. I can see how we touch the lives of our patrons in a positive way on a daily basis,” Tuck says. “Our services are FREE to everyone in the City, we do not discriminate and we embrace our City’s diversity.”

Beyond free computer use and Wi-Fi, books, movies, and magazines, the Los Angeles Public Library offers a range of resources students need to succeed in school:

Full STEAM Ahead – Workshops and resources that spark kids’ interest in science and technology.

Live Homework Help – A free, online tutoring service for grades K to 12.

Student Smart – Full-length practice tests (SAT, PSAT, ACT), plus workshops and seminars to build study skills and get ready for college.

Student Zones – A place for kids to study and learn at the Library.

–Online homework resources and information like databases, word processing programs, and more.

Learn more about all of these programs at lapl.org/ya.