Get Smart With Your Finances

Don’t be delinquent with your taxes… remember actress Veronica Lake’s fall from the Hollywood limelight?  

http://jpg1.lapl.org/00106/00106298.jpgFrom the LAPL Photo Collection, May 8, 1951: “There were no dramatics, no kleiglights, no hair hanging over one eye today for actress Veronica Lake. It was real-life money troubles that she and her husband, director André de Toth, came to court to talk about. They have filed bankruptcy petitions. Their home has been seized for delinquent income taxes. ‘When that happened,’ said de Toth, everybody who held a bill against us wanted money immediately.”

April is Financial Literacy Month and Mayor Garcetti has teamed up with the Los Angeles Public Library to help all Angelenos learn how to earn more, save more, and achieve financial security. Every Saturday during April, the LAPL is offering free events and workshops, such as Money Skills for Families, Debt Management, Understanding Credit & Cash for College. Learn to be money smart and take advantage of the resources and benefits available to you and your family. Here’s the PDF with full details on events and workshops at these branches:

April 12 – Van Nuys Branch Library
April 19 – Pio Pico Koreatown Library
April 26 – Exposition Park Regional Branch

Also, with Tax Day right around the corner, click here to find information on tax forms, filing and where to go for income tax assistance at the Los Angeles Public Library. You may qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or access to FREE tax preparation software. And check out The Language of Money Resource Guide, a great compilation of financial learning tools, books, databases, and useful websites.

Toddling Through Children’s Books with Jason Boog

How do you pick the best books for the baby or toddler in your life? After three years of research with my daughter, I think you should take them to the library and let them find books themselves.

When my daughter was born, I hadn’t read a kid’s book in many, many years. I learned almost everything I know about children’s literature by exploring the Pacific Palisades branch of the Los Angeles Public Library with my daughter.

Before Olive was able to walk, she could still browse at the library, digging through the baskets of books our librarians filled for the littlest readers. We checked out a stack of board books every week—books printed on hard cardboard stock to endure toddler readings.

As soon as she could toddle through the library, Olive would pluck books off the children shelves and carry them proudly to the checkout desk. We read so many amazing books during that time, but here are some favorites: Sandbox by Rosemary Wells, Please, Baby, Please by Spike Lee, Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann, Hug by Jez Alborough, and Ten Tiny Tickles by Karen Katz.

Olive soon graduated into longer books, including the entire Munschworks storybook collection by Robert Munsch, Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat, and anything by Dr. Seuss. Olive still likes to check out at least one Dr. Seuss book every week, and fortunately our library stocks plenty of circulating copies.


I wrote about our reading adventures in my upcoming book, Born Reading: Bringing Up Bookworms in a Digital Age. I didn’t used to blink when I passed the children’s section at the library, but now I can spend hours browsing the stocks with my daughter.

I now follow the upcoming book lists from the major publishers with the same enthusiasm I used to follow the adult bestseller list. There are a few books I’m very excited about this year, and all of them come with Olive’s stamp of approval.

 


Gorilla
by Anthony Browne: The 30th anniversary edition of one of our favorite books, the tale of a lovable gorilla who takes a young girl on a nighttime adventure. The LAPL has a great collection of Anthony Browne books that introduced us to this artist and author’s work.

Book Jacket for: We're going on a bear hunt : anniversary edition of a modern classic
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt
by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury
: This was one of our favorite read-along books when Olive was two years old, and a jigsaw puzzle version of this book is coming out this year—letting kids enjoy the book and solve a series of puzzles too.

 

 

Book Jacket for: Chu's day
Chu’s Day
by Neil Gaiman
(Chu’s First Day of School by Neil Gaiman, illus. by Adam Rex): I am a big fan of Gaiman’s work for adults, and Olive giggled all the way through Chu’s Day, the novelist’s first book about a lovable panda bear with a sneezing problem. We are looking forward to this new installment.

 

 

Book Jacket for: Bedtime math
Bedtime Math: This Time, It’s Personal
by Laura Overdeck
, illus by Jim Paillot: This book introduces kids to math, a crucial skill that parents tend to skip at storytime. The series helps math-challenged parents like me introduce math with all the fun of a bedtime story.

 

 

Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm Xby Ilyasah Shabazz: This upcoming biography explores the childhood of a great leader, complete with gorgeous illustrations by AG Ford.

Hearts by Thereza Rowe: In this magical book, Penelope the Fox loses her heart and chases it through a surreal landscape. This book is part of the TOON Books series, a collection of books by world-renown illustrators. Olive and I discovered this series in the LAPL stacks, and it introduced my daughter to the joy of comic books.

Finally, if your kid spends more time on the iPad instead of reading, I recommend you try the Reading Rainbow app.

This is the digital reincarnation of my favorite show from childhood, LeVar Burton’s Reading Rainbow. The subscription app contains hundreds of digital books and a selection of videos culled from the television show’s archive.

At our house, we let Olive watch one Reading Rainbow video during her daily iPad time. While reading books, she also learned about crayon factories, quilt makers, Olympic athletes and the press secretary for President Barack Obama. And she always ends these iPad sessions with a good digital book, narrated by some of the best readers in the storytelling business.

“But you don’t have to take my word for it,” Burton always used to say on Reading Rainbow. He’s right. Start with my recommendations, but take the kid in your life to the library to find more books…

–Posted by Jason Boog

Jason Boog is the author of the forthcoming book, “Born Reading: Bringing Up Bookworms in a Digital Age.” He lives in Los Angeles with his family.

Author photo by Mike Henry.

From the Archive: The Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

This year’s observance of Martin Luther King Day is made especially momentous as it also marks the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s March on Washington. Here then are a few incredible moments from the Los Angeles Public Library’s photo collection looking back at the rich legacy of MLK and how he impacted our city. Also, LAPL will be hosting Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle, a new program series developed by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) that uses the power of documentary films to encourage community discussion of America’s civil rights history. Check out the schedule of free film screenings at several library branches here.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Addresses Students
http://jpg1.lapl.org/pics25/00032094.jpgMartin Luther King speaks to a crowd of 4,500 on the campus of the University of California, Los Angeles. Here, he called for students to join a “Domestic Freedom Corps” to work in 120 counties of the Deep South to help increase the number of registered African American voters.

Honored at the Hollywood Palladiumhttp://jpg1.lapl.org/00082/00082910.jpg
Martin Luther King is honored by the City of Los Angeles and the World Affairs Council during a luncheon held at the Hollywood Palladium. Here he is pictured with (from left), Councilman (and later mayor) Tom Bradley, Supervisor Warren M. Dorn, King, Harold C. McClellan and Mayor Samuel W. Yorty. King arrived in Los Angeles under heavy guard following the assassination of Malcolm X. An anonymous bomb threat was made during the luncheon. When addressing the group, King said, “Before the victory is won, some of us will have to get scarred up a little bit.” Photograph caption dated February 26, 1965 reads, “City and county officials presented a proclamation to Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. in ceremonies preceeding a World Affairs Council luncheon yesterday at the Hollywood Palladium at which King, the Nobel Peace prize winner, spoke.”

Busload of L.A. Marchers Leave for Alabama Marchhttp://jpg1.lapl.org/pics28/00033922.jpg
A chartered bus with 37 aboard leaves the Federal Building under strict security measures. The Los Angeles civil-rights partisans were on their way to Alabama to participate in Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Negro vote” march. 1965.

Los Angeles Sports Arenahttp://jpg1.lapl.org/pics25/00032084.jpgMartin Luther King and Governor Edmund G. Brown during a Freedom Rally at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. An audience of 12,000 was expected at the 18,000-seat venue. When over 25,000 people showed up to hear King speak, many remained outside and listened to the speech over loudspeakers. Photograph dated June 18, 1961.

Chavez Gives King Tribute http://jpg1.lapl.org/pics25/00032092.jpgCesar Chavez, standing next to a large wreath, pays tribute to the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at a memorial service at the Los Angeles Coliseum on April 7, 1968.

King Memorial Service http://jpg1.lapl.org/pics25/00032082.jpgClergy and mourners march to First Methodist Church, 8th and Hill Streets, on April 8, 1968, where services were held for Dr. Martin Luther King. View is from the top of the church.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Honored  http://jpg1.lapl.org/00092/00092142.jpg
A grandmother explains to her grandson who Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was, in front of a display in the lobby of Curtiss Middle School in Carson. Photo by Ken Papaleo.

Browse more photos from the Library’s online collection here.

This Year’s Highlights of Membership

Members of the Library Foundation are a dedicated group of people who share a deep commitment to helping the Library provide all Angelenos with access to ideas, information, and lifelong learning. We are so grateful for their support, and in return, have spent 2013 hosting a range of events to celebrate their love for the Los Angeles Public Library. Before we look ahead to 2014 and invite Members to join us for a new slate of special events, here’s a look back at some highlights from this truly remarkable year. If you are not a Member already, please consider becoming a Library Foundation Member today to take part in these special events.

2013 marked the debut of “The Writer’s Cut.” This new program brings today’s most well known television writers and showrunners to the Central Library to discuss storytelling for the small screen. Members heard behind-the-scenes tales from Dan O’Shannon (“Modern Family”), Glen Mazzara (“The Walking Dead”), and, pictured above, Vince Gilligan (“Breaking Bad”).

After the coziest of all fundraisers, the Stay Home and Read a Book Ball, took place last year, writer Mark Salzman, chair of the event, invited Members to participate in a private writing workshop.

Members were also invited to many other exclusive events with celebrated authors including these Leadership Circle receptions and private events:
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Sharon Rising, Marlene Billington and Patt Morrison gather for a reception with Gavin Newsom, Lieutenant Governor of California.

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As part of What Ever Happened to Moby Dick?, D. Graham Burnett with Douglas Murray, Bernadette Glenn, and Ken Brecher.


Songs in the Key of LA performance with Van Dyke Parks and special guests.

Membership also comes with some special savings benefits. This year, Members received early access to the Summer Sale at the award-winning Library Store and discounts at other Los Angeles organizations as part of May and November’s Member Appreciation Days.

As always, Members received priority notice of the ALOUD lineups throughout the year, and this past September Members also received priority notice to the launch of “Lost & Found at the Movies,” a new series celebrating the art of cinema and the vitality of film culture. Curated by John Nein, senior programmer for the Sundance Film Festival, the program kicked off with Los Angeles Times and NPR Film Critic Kenneth Turan talking about how and where we watch films in L.A. (pictured above.)
The Young Literati’s annual Annenberg Beach House party was the perfect kick off to “Whatever Happened to Moby Dick?”. Members were treated to readings by Moby, Mark Z. Danielewski, Colin Hanks, and Attica Locke; a DJ set by Shepard Fairey; and a special acoustic performance by thenewno2.

Young Literati also enjoyed cocktails with Roy Choi after a particularly mouthwatering edition of ALOUD. During the evening, Roy Choi discussed his fascinating journey, which has culminated in his critically-acclaimed Kogi BBQ Trucks and several much-loved restaurants. He then joined Young Literati Members in the courtyard for a private reception featuring tacos and beer!
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And the Young Literati’s Private Party at Subliminal Projects was an evening of literary inspiration at Amanda and Shepard Fairey’s Echo Park gallery space. Kai and Sunny’s literature-inspired artwork provided a beautiful backdrop for Young Literati to mingle and enjoy special cocktails from The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.

Thank you to all of our Members for spending the year with us! If you are looking for some last minute holiday gifts, Membership is the gift that keeps on giving. For a limited time this December and January, a generous Member of our Board of Directors will match your gift dollar for dollar when you join the Library Foundation.

For more information about Membership contact Erin Sapinoso at erinsapinoso@lfla.org. Or for more information about the Young Literati, contact Jennnifer Kondo at jenniferkondo@lfla.org.

 

Tying the Room Together; Highlights from ALOUD

The year brought many unexpected surprises to the ALOUD stage: a first-ever live rap with local hip hop stars backing author MK Asante; Quetzal bringing vintage music from the Los Angeles Public Library sheet music collection to life; Persian short story master Goli Taraghi slyly comparing Tehranian and Parisian cabbies; the late Wanda Coleman delivering one of her last public readings—a passionate poetry tribute to James Weldon Johnson. We sampled sustainable Congolese coffee before a panel on coffee culture, and blissed out when The Dude himself (Jeff Bridges) ruminated on how “love is the rug that ties the room together.”

Please join us once more before the year’s end to laugh, question, savor, and reflect on some of our favorite ALOUD moments from 2013:

Three accomplished short story writers—George Saunders, Bernard Cooper, and Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, unpacked the challenges of the short story form explaining how they work through their own daunting personal doubts.

“Language is like a sword that can defend you.” Iranian writer Goli Taraghi shared this wisdom along with other fascinating insights into how creativity and ingenuity can flourish despite censorship, oppression, and the struggles of an exile living far from her home and mother tongue.

MK Asante and Nick Flynn gifted us raw wisdom in their memoirs, both soaring meditations on the power of poetry, writing, and filmmaking as tools for transmitting universal truths, emotional healing, and unlocking individual freedom.

“Is this your first book in a box?,” asked graphic novelist Gene Yang of fellow illustrator Joe Sacco. Yang dove into a fascinating discussion with Sacco on process, while looking at how artists deal with the ethics of converting history into graphic narratives. Far from being contained within the boundaries of a box, these two artists showed how storytelling is illuminated through diverse forms.

The Feminine Mystique, a panel of multi-generational activists, expanded upon Betty Friedan’s seminal book by exploring the evolution of the feminist movement, and why feminism is still considered a “dirty word.” Highlights included learning about the radical and exploratory approaches women took to protect their health in the sixties (the first time anyone produced a speculum on the ALOUD stage!), and consensus from all participants that feminists today are in favor of a more inclusive movement encompassing class and racial equality for both women and men.

The Library jammed to the jazz and world music tunes of Don Cherry in a live tribute honoring an L.A. genius who spread his cosmic musical talent far and wide. In a first-ever hometown tribute, his talented family of fellow musicians—conducted by his son David Ornette Cherry— shared candid stories from his career while also introducing a new generation to his work.

The ALOUD audience was enlightened by a rich bilingual experience about the life of the late poet and novelist Roberto Bolaño. Here’s a gem from an audience member: “Otherness becomes familiar as the magic of unattainable syllables is rendered even more magical with the conveyance of heart pulse, bone and marrow intentions.”


Activists Albie Sachs, Eve Ensler, Jody Williams and artist Shirin Neshat—all by example—showed what we can do as citizens and artists in service of reconciliation, social justice and as agents for positive change in the world: “You cannot not respond to the world around you—culture has to be morally conscious.” —Shirin Neshat (pictured above)

Thank you for spending the year with us! We look forward to seeing you in 2014. Learn more about our 2014 program calendar here.

Looking at the Past and Present; A Year of Special Projects

The Library Foundation has spent the last year envisioning the role of the 21st century library by launching a range of special projects that celebrate the rich history and culture of Los Angeles in today’s world. Before we head into 2014, we wanted to share some highlights from these projects that we hope have offered Angelenos a chance to experience our city in new and unique ways.

Songs in the Key of L.A.

Photo by Gary Leonard.

Over the summer, this special project brought to life the Los Angeles Public Library’s sheet music collection, including the publication of Angel City Press’ beautiful anthology curated by USC Professor Josh Kun. The First Floor Galleries of the Central Library also opened an exhibit of 46 pieces of the cover art from the sheet music, and ALOUD hosted Kun and GRAMMY-winning L.A. band Quetzal for a look at L.A.’s musical history. Listen to the podcast here.

The project closed with what Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic Randall Roberts called “a truly memorable moment, one that many in attendance won’t forget.” East L.A. band Ozmatli and fellow artists took the stage at Grand Performances to resurrect the historic songs from the collection. The evening featured special guests Stevie Wonder, Jackson Browne, and Cheech Marin filling the California Plaza with a new take on its SoCal roots.

Check out KCET’s Artbound special series for short films documenting the new recordings of songs from the collection below, and download some of the songs here.

 

Whatever Happened to Moby Dick?

Raymond Pettibon, No Title (His transformation is), 2009. Courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles ©Raymond Pettibon

Throughout the fall, the Library Foundation teamed up with the Los Angeles Public Library to invite readers to take a look at Herman Melville’s masterpiece through a Southern California lens. Over 90 librarian-created events across the city offered Angelenos of all ages to chance to interact with the great white whale, including a special reading of Moby Dick by actor, comedian, and Melvillian enthusiast Patton Oswalt.

Photo by Gary Leonard.

Over 200 folks took part in the Summarizing Moby Dick Twitter Contest winners, which offered hilarious and thoughtful micro takes on the epic story, including this favorite:

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The project culminated with “My Moby Dick,” a grand finale of theatrical performance, sea shanties, and cutting-edge science at the Broad Stage, including a special film by the directors of Little Miss Sunshine, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. Watch parts of this video here, including food critic Jonathan Gold’s retelling of eating whale balls.

 

Lost & Found at the Movies

This fall, we debuted a new series celebrating the art of cinema and the vitality of film culture. Curated by John Nein, senior programmer for the Sundance Film Festival, the program is eclectic in theme and varies in form, exploring how we lose ourselves and find ourselves at the movies. The first installment unearthed some historic photos of theaters from the Library’s archive and featured Los Angeles Times and NPR Film Critic Kenneth Turan talking about how and where we watch films in L.A.

Check back with us in the new year for upcoming special projects, including the next installment of Lost & Found at the Movies.

A New Gateway to Citizenship

As we prepare to celebrate July 4th and the great civil liberties of our country, there’s never been a better time to spread the word about a wonderful service available to those interested in becoming a U.S. citizen. Thanks to a recent partnership between the Los Angeles Public Library, the City of Los Angeles, and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (U.S.C.I.S.), over 700,000 Los Angeles residents who are eligible for citizenship have a new resource to help guide them through the naturalization process. Starting last September, “Citizenship Zones,” were established at all 73 locations of the Los Angeles Public Library to provide patrons with essential information about becoming U.S. citizens. These zones offer extensive free materials, from application forms and test brochures, to multi-lingual books and DVDs, civics and vocabulary flashcards, to guides on the benefits and responsibilities of being a citizen.

Positioned as the gateway to America, Los Angeles was the perfect place to launch this pilot partnership. “More immigrants start here than anywhere else. We have over 3,000,000 people and 700,000 are eligible for citizenship–they meet the requirements and they just have to fill out the forms, take the test, and pay the fee,” explains Cheryl Collins, director of Branch Library Services. “The Los Angeles Public Library is the most trusted institution across 73 neighborhoods, so we are everywhere to help.” To kick-off the initiative, U.S.C.I.S. trained over 100 LAPL personnel on “Citizenship 101” to equip librarians to confidently answer a range of complex questions on citizenship.

To reach wider communities across the city, the LAPL has also teamed up with trusted local non-profit groups such as Catholic Charities, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center to provide training and counsel.

This collaboration model between a government agency, non-profits, and a public library is the first of its kind. It is already finding such overwhelming success that the U.S.C.I.S. plans to duplicate the program with the Chicago Public Library. Just this week, City Librarian John Szabo presented at the American Library Association Conference in Chicago, sharing about how the LAPL has created a template for providing a successful path to citizenship that can be expanded to other parts of the country.

The initiative is a core part of Szabo’s vision to further enhance the Los Angeles Public Library’s role as a touchstone of democracy across the community—a free and open place that people can turn to for support on issues from healthcare, to finances, to education. Thus far, the LAPL is already hearing of individuals who have successfully reached citizenship status through the guidance of the Library, and the number is sure to rise.

Visit lapl.org/citizenship to learn more, or stop by any LAPL branch.

Come See the “Songs in the Key of L.A” at the Central Library

This Monday, July 1st, an exciting new exhibit from the “Songs in the Key of L.A.” project will be unveiled in the downtown Central Library’s First Floor Galleries. The exhibit will feature a selection of sheet music mined from the Los Angeles Public Library’s collection as part of a recent collaboration between the Los Angeles Public Library and Library Foundation of Los Angeles.

Including 46 pieces from the 1850s through 1950s, the sheet music exhibition offers a unique window into Southern California and Los Angeles music history by highlighting the early history of the city’s music industry, civic music culture, and the role of music in shaping Los Angeles. It also demonstrates the prominent role of Mexican and African American music in Los Angeles.

“From boosterism to beaches, mythic missions to citrus utopias, the rise of the railroad to the rise of Hollywood, this original sheet music cover art reveals a city being shaped in dynamic full color,” said USC Professor Josh Kun, who is the director of “The Popular Music Project” at USC Annenberg’s Norman Lear Center, and curated the exhibition along with scholar Inna Arzumanova. Working with the librarians in charge of the collection at Central Library, Kun, Arzumanova, and a group of USC students, combed through roughly 50,000 pieces of sheet music collection to create this one-of-a-kind exhibit.

“We are thrilled to shine a light on this fascinating view of Los Angeles history,” said City Librarian John F. Szabo. “Thousands of professional and amateur musicians and music lovers throughout Los Angeles already use our music collection. With this exhibit, we hope to encourage everyone to come and explore the wonderful resources and treasures at the Los Angeles Public Library. We look forward to highlighting the Library’s other special collections and using them in a similar way to tell the story of our great city.”

 

The exhibit is part of the larger “Songs in the Key of L.A.” project, which during the summer will showcase the sheet music through a comprehensive anthology, new recordings, a free concert with Grand Performances, and an ALOUD program at the Central Library.

“Songs in the Key of L.A.” is on view in the Central Library’s First Floor Galleries and is free and open to the public during library hours: Monday & Wednesday: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Tuesday & Thursday: 12:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday: 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Click here for more information about the exhibit.

     

Now on Demand: Online Streaming at the Library

Would you love to instantly stream a Ken Burns’ documentary or listen to the audiobook of The Silver Linings Playbook without having to pay or waiting to download the file? This summer the Los Angeles Public Library is beginning to offer a new on-demand service through Hoopla, enabling anyone with a LAPL card and a computer, tablet, or other electronic device to instantly access over 300,000 digitized videos and books 24/7. The Library has partnered with Hoopla in the past to download, but this new innovative streaming service is the first for a public library system that eliminates the need to put on hold or check out movies, books, and music before accessing.

Hoopla

Last year, LAPL partnered with Freegal to offer free music downloads of Sony’s vast music collection. After an overwhelming 200,000 Freegal downloads from library patrons, LAPL is excited to make more online content readily available. Patrons can continue to check out e-books, e-music, e-videos, and e-audio books from their Apple or Android devices from OverDrive, Axis 360, and OneClickdigital. Each site delivers a different mix of popular titles for adults and a vast selection of children’s items to accommodate all interests.

Beyond the advancement of e-programs that provide fun and entertainment, the Library is also finding innovative ways to expand educational resources through their digital services. Beginning last February, a new series of Online Learning tools became available at lapl.org. From taking an instructor-led online class, to learning a new language, or practicing a GED or SAT test, there are hundreds of free new programs for the taking. Check out Learn4Life or Universal Class to sign up for a class on criminal law, or digital photography, or starting your own business. Or turn to Mango or Powerspeak to learn Arabic, Chinese, or any of the other 19 languages available.

“The usage of our digital resources is increasing every single month,” says Collection Services Manager Peggy Murphy. “The Los Angeles Public Library is committed to staying at the forefront of rapidly evolving technology to fulfill our mission to support lifelong learning. All of our collections belong to the people of Los Angeles, and now they have better access to these great treasures than ever before.”

Better access doesn’t stop at newspapers either. In March, the Library began to offer Press Display, which can deliver 2,200 newspapers in 54 languages from 97 countries to your fingertips where you are. Of course, you can still visit any brick and mortar library to unfold your favorite paper in your hands.

Visit www.lapl.org to learn more about all of these digital programs.

LAPL’s Summer Reading Program Is So Delicious

Since 1930 the Los Angeles Public Library has offered a free summer reading program to foster literacy and learning when students are out of school and susceptible to the dreaded summer slump. Last year, over 45,000 students participated, and this summer the LAPL expects that number will continue to grow. The 2013 Summer Reading Program kicks off today and runs through August 3 and is open to preschoolers (ages 0-4), children (ages 5-10), and teens (ages 11-19). In a time when nutrition is more important than ever, this year’s theme revolves around food to encourage kids and parents that reading can be interactive, fun, and delicious.

Students can stop by any branch of the Los Angeles Public Library to pick up a game board, which provides a playful way for kids and parents to track their summer reading activities. When students check back in with their library throughout the program, they receive prizes, stickers, and books to encourage their progress. The libraries will also offer a range of food related activities to get kids excited about reading: from inventing new menus and writing reviews of their favorite restaurants, to workshops on planting an edible garden, and visits by local chefs.

This year too there will be special “food” program boxes that students can check out through Youth Services and take home to keep them simmering with constructive activities all summer. The boxes include crafts, scripts for plays, puppet show materials, and even cupcake decorating kits for teens. All of the activities promote creative storytelling, and show kids and parents how to enrich literacy skills through play.

“Our goal has always been to bring in new users to the Library, especially from underserved groups in the community. By offering a fun way to interact with books, the library and librarians, we are encouraging them to read for pleasure,” says Eva Mitnick, LAPL’s coordinator of Children’s Services. The Los Angeles Public Library is also partnering with other organizations this summer to offer pilot learning programs for kids, including the California Science Center, which will donate preschool kits filled with science equipment on such topics as “From Seeds to Plants.” Another program with Iridescent Learning will offer a five-session family science course taught by USC engineers.

For teens and children 18 and under, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank will be distributing free lunches at the Pacoima Branch and Central Library to make sure kids who receive free school lunches don’t go hungry during summer break, and are able to get easy access to literacy and learning programs at the Library.

For a full schedule of all upcoming programs for kids and teens, visit www.lapl.org/summerreading.