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.

New Short Videos from ALOUD

We hope you’ve spent many evenings with ALOUD at the Central Library, hearing from some of the most groundbreaking artists, authors, scientists, and thinkers of our time. Now, whenever and wherever you have a couple minutes to unwind, you can catch up on illuminating moments from the programs you missed or you want to experience again. Over the years, we’ve been archiving full programs through podcasts and videos, and now we are excited to share with you a new series of short videos highlighting a few favorite moments from some recent programs. Take a short break with ALOUD and enjoy!

“Even at the most dramatic, there’s still a sense of playfulness,” said moderator Elvis Mitchell of Scott McCloud’s graphic novels. Hear how McCloud has made humor his ally.

 

“It was March, a light snow was falling…” reads Bill T. Jones from his book Story/Time: The Life of an Idea. Watch as the dancers Talli Jackson and Erick Montes Chavero bring to life Jones’ memory of an evening 24 years ago in this beautiful performance at ALOUD.

 

“Over the next several days, I nearly lost my mind…” begins actor Reza Safai as he read from the deeply personal diary of Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a man still imprisoned at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp, but who has never been charged with a crime. This is part one of a three-part short video series, which includes a conversation with Slahi’s lawyer, Nancy Hollander, and activist and editor of Slahi’s book, Larry Siems.

Watch over 100 short clips and full programs on ALOUD’s Vimeo page.

 

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.

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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.

Catch the Line-up of Young Literati Toasters

The Young Literati’s Seventh Annual Toast is around the corner, and an exciting line-up of L.A.’s best and brightest has just been announced to take the stage to celebrate the Los Angeles Public Library. On Saturday, March 28, actor Colin Hanks, actress Gillian Jacobs, comedian Jason Mantzoukas, DJ/producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad, filmmaker Jason Reitman, actress Jenny Slate, and actress Mae Whitman will read selections of literature from the Library’s vast collections before a special musical performance from GRAMMY-winning L.A. band La Santa Cecilia and DJ sets by artist Shepard Fairey. Please join us for this special benefit and the Young Literati’s biggest event of the year! Learn more about how to attend here, and to ready you to raise your glass for public libraries, here’s a few fun highlights featuring the evening’s special guests.

From the “best Latin rock band,” La Santa Cecilia’s music video “Cumbia Morada”

Official trailer for Jenny Slate’s subversively funny Obvious Child

Jason Mantzoukas’s unhinged visit to Conan

Mae Whitman now in theaters near you

The Seventh Annual Toast
An evening celebrating and supporting the Los Angeles Public Library
Saturday, March 28 at 8PM
Learn More

Make Plans to Stay Home and Read a Book!

The Stay Home and Read a Book Ball is this Sunday, March 1! Angelenos all over the city will escape into the pages of a good book to support the Los Angeles Public Library. Either poolside or fireside, day or night, with loved ones or in solitary bliss, everyone is invited to join the festivities. To help you get inspired for a lovely respite of reading at home, see what other participants–and their pets–have queued up.

Catherine Gordon’s parrot Coconut, plans to read Flaubert’s Parrot.

Margaret L. Bach plans to read Anthony Doerr’s All the Light You Cannot See.

Eric Roberts plans to read Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn.

Marjorie L. Jennings plans to read Sonia Sotomayor’s My Beloved World.

John E. Peer plans to read Ben Lerner’s 10:04.

Coralie R. Goldsmith plans to read Marilynne Robinson’s Lila.

Anthony Cobbs plans to read Karen Russell’s Vampires in the Lemon Grove.

Valerie Tracy Zografos plans to read Blair Worden’s The English Civil Wars.

If you haven’t already made a reservation for the ball, learn more about how you can stay home, read a book, and give back to the educational and cultural programs of the Los Angeles Public Library.

What are you planning to read? Let us know how you’re celebrating:
Twitter: @LibraryFoundLA #LFLAStayHome
Facebook: LibraryFoundLA
Instagram: LibraryFoundLA

Have a Ball with Junot Díaz, Carlos Santana, Patton Oswalt, and More

“Our libraries, in their promotion and practice of literacy, in their providing free access of information to all, in their diverse educational and artistic programs, in their astounding egalitarianism, represent what is best about our society.  And what is best about us,” writes Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Díaz, and this year’s Stay Home and Read a Book Ball Chair.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to support the incredible work of the Los Angeles Public Library,” Díaz says of the Stay Home and Read a Book Ball, which invites participants to come together on March 1 by staying at home and reading a book. “Saving lives and saving the future by the simple act of reading—I ask you: what could be more heavenly than that?”  We agree—nothing could be better! Please join us for this special event, now in its 27th year, that benefits the cultural and educational programs of the Los Angeles Public Library. Read below why others are staying home and supporting the Library, and why you should join in too!

“I invite you, wholeheartedly, to read books that remind you of your highest self and emancipate you from mental slavery or false beliefs and illusions.  The more you invest in attracting books that resonate with the frequency of your true self, the more light you will bring to the world.” –Carlos Santana

“Tonight I’m going to have a conversation that is interesting and fun and unstoppable.  I might get emotional.  I might cry.  I might break up laughing.  But I know I won’t be bored. That’s how it is whenever I open a book.” –Ceci Bastida

“You’re grounded!!!!  You can’t go out and prowl the L.A. streets.  You’ve got to do something more edifying, emboldening and altogether more groovy.  You gots to stay home tonite and read a good book!!!!!!!!!!” –James Ellroy

“L.A.’s public libraries served as refuge from the violence and suicide-inducing emptiness of my barrio existence.  Whether as a stammering Spanish-only child trying with great effort to absorb the English words in books like Charlotte’s Web.  Or as a teenaged gang member, turning tattered pages in juvenile hall or homeless inside an abandoned car. Books called me to life, to destiny, to imagination. To stay home and read a book—a luxury, a miracle, true magic.” –Luis J. Rodriguez

“Whether it’s Benito Cereno or Billy Budd or Jane Eyre or Tess, a Confidence Man, a Secret Agent, or even Two Serious Ladies instead of one – I’m guaranteed the rare satisfaction of life, in all its hues, when I skip the forgettable, the social world, and select my evening date from the pages of a book.” –Rachel Kushner

“All I’ve ever wanted was to stay inside and read a book.  Thanks to the Library Foundation of Los Angeles, that dream will come true.” –Patton Oswalt

Make your dream come true too! Learn more about attending the Stay Home and Read a Book Ball on March 1st and supporting the Los Angeles Public Library.

 

 

 

 

 

ALOUD Launches Spring Line-up

From a Nobel Prize winner to an acclaimed hip-hop artist, the Library Foundation of Los Angeles’ critically-acclaimed ALOUD series presents an exciting slate of free public programs this spring exploring issues of activism, poetry, politics, performance, and more at downtown’s historic Central Library.

On Wednesday, March 4, ALOUD welcomes Eric Foner, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and consultant on the Academy Award-winning film 12 Years a Slave, to discuss his latest book, which reveals extraordinary new findings about the Underground Railroad. The next day, Thursday, March 5, the multi-talented dancer, choreographer, and director Bill T. Jones (pictured above) visits ALOUD for a conversation and performance with dancers from his company, celebrating the publication of a new book based on his brilliant work as an African American artist in the white-dominated dance world.

Historian Timothy Snyder and journalist Masha Gessen, two essential thinkers on Eastern European politics, convene to offer a revelatory look at the propaganda and reality of the war in Ukraine on Tuesday, March 10. On Monday, March 23, together for the first time on stage, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Adam Johnson and bestselling nonfiction author Blaine Harden explore how different paths of storytelling led them to similar truths about the illusive culture of North Korea.

Thomas McGuane joins ALOUD on Tuesday, March 31, for a reading and conversation about Crow Fair: Stories, his first collection in nine years, which confirms his status as one of America’s most deeply admired storytellers.

On Thursday, April 2, Karima Bennoune, a 20-year veteran of human rights research and activism, offers an eye-opening chronicle of peaceful resistance to extremism with Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism. Continuing these same themes, on Wednesday, April 8, local filmmakers Julia Metzer and Laura Nix offer a rare look into the female experience of contemporary Islam with a screening of their documentary, A Light in Her Eyes, filmed in Syria (film still pictured above.)  Veteran journalist and critically-acclaimed author Sandy Tolan brings another true story of hope in the Palestinian-Israeli impasse with Children of the Stone: The Power of Music in a Hard Land on Tuesday, April 21.

On Thursday, April 23, in partnership with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, ALOUD presents GRAMMY-nominated Chilean hip hop artist Ana Tijoux (pictured above) for a conversation and performance of her politically powered verses and rebel spirit.

Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize-winning economist,  speaks with journalist Jim Newton  about the yawning gap between rich and poor in America on Monday, April 27.

On Thursday, April 30, ALOUD presents the second annual gathering of students from five Southland graduate writing programs – CalArts, Otis College, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, and USC – to share recent work and tune audience ears to the future of language.

In collaboration with LéaLA, Feria del Libro en Español de Los Ángeles, on Thursday, May 14, award-winning author and former PEN Mexico President Jennifer Clement, presents her fictionalized account – drawn from ten years of field research and the author’s own time living in Mexico – of young women in rural Guerrero living in the shadows of the drug war.

And closing out the season, ALOUD presents two incredible evenings of poetry: On Tuesday, May 19, masterful poet and essayist Jane Hirshfield shares her latest two works, Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World and The Beauty, for a close look at poetry’s power to expand perception; and on Thursday, May 28, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tracy K. Smith (pictured above) reads her poetry and discusses her new memoir, Ordinary Light, a gorgeous kaleidoscope of self and family that explores the meaning of home against a complex backdrop of race, religion, and unbreakable bonds.

The entire ALOUD spring 2015 calendar is now available to the public at lfla.org/aloud. Library Foundation Members receive advance notice of ALOUD programs.

Photo Credits:
First image: Photos from performance of Story/Time. Credit: Paul B. Goode
Second image: Arirang Festival- Pyongyang, North Korea. Credit: (Stephan)
Third image: Film still from documentary, The Light in Her Eyes.
Last image: Tracy K. Smith at the Brooklyn Public Library in Brooklyn, New York.
Credit: Rolex/ Tina Ruisinger

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.

 

 

Coming Soon: Oscar-Nominated Filmmaker Pawel Pawlikowski

If you attended last February’s Lost & Found at the Movies with series curator John Nein, you’ll remember that he shared his list of favorite films from Sundance and other festivals that we should lookout for in the year ahead. Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida was unequivocally at the top of that list. Like many last year who fell in love with Ida–from The New Yorker‘s David Denby, who called it “a masterpiece,” and the Wall Street Journal‘s Joe Morgenstern, who called it “exquisite”–the Academy of Motion Pictures has also honored Ida by nominating it for two Oscars for Best Foreign Film and Best Cinematography.

On Wednesday, February 11th, John Nein returns for the first installment of Lost & Found in the new year with an exclusive interview with Pawel Pawlikowski at Central Library on the cusp of the Academy Awards. Join us for this special evening when one of Europe’s most fascinating filmmakers will discuss the creative process behind Ida, his cinematic influences, and a career that has spanned fiction and documentary.

IdaMajestically shot in black and white, Ida is a visceral portrait of discovery as it follows the story of Anna, a young novitiate nun in 1960s Poland who is on the verge of taking her vows when she discovers a dark family secret dating back to the years of the Nazi occupation. If you haven’t yet been able to catch this breathtaking film, it is available to view now via Netflix Streaming. Watch the trailer below, and read reviews from The New York Times, The New Yorker, Slate, and Kenneth Turan for the Los Angeles Times, before you join us for this rare conversation about one of last year’s most remarkable films.

Learn more about this program and make your free reservation to attend here.

Eras Colliding: Patton Oswalt at ALOUD

Before Patton Oswalt became a beloved fixture in comedy, film, and television, including roles in Young Adult, Big Fan, and Ratatouille, he was obsessively watching classic movies at the legendary New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles. Discussing his new memoir which takes the reader on a journey into the mind of a film buff, next week Patton will join ALOUD at the Writers Guild Theater for a familial and likely irreverent conversation with his brother and fellow film fanatic, Matt Oswalt. Before the Oswalts take the stage, we caught up with Patton about his addiction to the big screen, books, and his 1.75 million Twitter followers.

 

You’ve watched a lot of films at the New Beverly Cinema, but you also watch films at library programs. What’s the importance of watching films in a communal setting for you? How does a library screening differ from other cinematic experiences?
Patton:
Watching films in a communal setting adds a subconscious dimension to the movie that no one—not the director, writers, actors, and not even each individual audience member anticipated would be a part of the experience. Something that you’d shrug your shoulders at watching alone—or that a director, writer and actor conceived and executed as a means to get from point A to point B—can suddenly become a laugh, or a scream, or a groan of exasperation to an audience, wired together emotionally in the dark.

Watching a film in a library adds another aspect—the feeling of eras colliding and battling each other. You’re surrounded by books, which used to be movies for the masses, and there they sit, like tombstones, while up there on the screen is a moving glow which pushed those books further back into the shadows. Very dramatic, if you’re in the right mind for it.

Although your main passion is film, you are also very literary—you’ve written two books and you took part in the Library Foundation’s Moby Dick project last year. What role did books play in your life growing up—and did they influence your love of film?
Patton: Books were a comfortable bolt-hole out of reality, and prepared me to be comfortable with looking through different windows at the way someone who wasn’t me interpreted reality. Any window—page of a book, comic panel, painting canvas, cathode ray tube, movie screen—the mind wants an expanded horizon.

You are very active on Twitter, yet you recently took a break from it. Do you think such forms of communication enhance or pose a threat to the way we use language today?
Patton:
Any new form of communication can enhance the world we live in—ask the people in Tahrir Square if they think Twitter is a threat—but, like anything, it can get misused or, worse, replace life. There are just as many people who have fallen into the pages of books and never re-emerged as have dissolved their consciousnesses online.

You often take your daughter to the Los Angeles Public Library. Can you talk about your visits to the Library? Why is the Library important to you as a father?
Patton:
I never go with a specific thing I want to do or don’t want to do. Mainly I like her seeing people excited to get into the stacks, to thumb through pages, to brush up against other minds. The looks on the faces of the freaks, waiting by the main entrance with their notebooks and pages and manifestos? It’s like I’m taking her to see a vanishing species.

An Evening with Patton Oswalt
Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film
In conversation with writer and director (and brother) Matt Oswalt

Friday, January 23, 7:30 PM
Writers Guild Theater

Tickets: lfla.org/aloud