Sunday 3/9 @ L.A. Weekly’s Essentials Food and Wine Event: noon – 5pm
Sunday 3/23 @ Downtown Flea in Chinatown: 10am – 4pm
Saturday 3/29 @ Grand Park Bookfest: noon – 5pm
And next month we’ll be at Los Angeles Times Festival of Books! Stay tuned!
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:
Sharon Rising, Marlene Billington and Patt Morrison gather for a reception with Gavin Newsom, Lieutenant Governor of California.
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!
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.
The Library Store On Wheels is headed your direction in December!
Saturday 12/7 @ Edendale Library: 11:30am – 5pm
Sunday 12/8 @ German Christmas Market: 10am – 6pm
Saturday & Sunday 12/14 & 12/15 @ Renegade Craft Fair: 10am – 5pm
Sunday 12/22 @ Downtown Flea: 10am – 4pm
Friday 11/15 @ Studio City Library: Noon to 5pm
Sunday 11/17 @ Patchwork Long Beach: 11am to 5pm
Saturday 11/23 @ Amoeba Music Hollywood: Noon to 4pm
Sunday 11/24 @ Melrose Trading Post: 9am to 5pm
Saturday 11/30 @ Woodland Hills Library: 11am to 5pm
Sunday 12/1 @ Patchwork Santa Ana: 11am to 5pm
Music scholar and native Angeleno Josh Kun has always been interested in how communities and cultures interact, so working with the Los Angeles Public Library’s sheet music collection was a perfect trajectory of his studies. Guided by Emma Roberts, Librarian III in the Art, Music, and Recreation/Rare Books department, Kun and graduate student Inna Arzumanova, along with a team of five undergraduate students from U.S.C., spent many Saturdays examining box after box of the archive. Here Kun takes us through the extensive research process that eventually evolved into Songs in the Key of Los Angeles.
What did you expect to find in the Library’s sheet music collection before you actually began to “mine” it?
Kun: I went into the collection literally knowing nothing about what was in there. I didn’t yet know it would be a project about Los Angeles, but then I started noticing all of these Southern California songs and I realized they were adding up to something singular that could tell a remarkable story on the shaping of Los Angeles.
How did you approach building the historical context surrounding this music?
Kun: Very little had been written about the sheet music industry in Southern California and the publishers, so we did a lot of digging into early L.A. historical archives to try to piece together these stories. We had to figure out how to contextualize sheet music in the myths and power plays of the building of early Los Angeles, which there is a lot of scholarship on, for example, the history of tourism. But we also wanted to position sheet music in the history of Mexican-American life and African-American life in Southern California, both of which we found many songs that spoke to these histories.
The book contains many voices beyond the musicians—talk about the community you involved in assembling this history.
Kun: I wanted to make sure we had essays that explored some of the many facets this collection represents, so I reached out to experts I knew in particular areas. We’ve got an essay on the history of graphic design and graphic art in relation to sheet music; an essay on African-American music in Los Angeles; an essay that focuses on the dominance of women on covers of sheet music.
What was one of the most interesting things you learned about the history of L.A. through your research?
Kun: One of the earliest pieces we found was a piece of music for a traditional Mexican song called “Chiapanecas.” This was usually an instrumental folk song, but the sheet music had newly written English lyrics. The sheet music cover also had a photograph of a restaurant on Olvera Street and used the song to promote the restaurant by saying, ‘Come here to hear this song.’ It was a great example of how sheet music was used to promote local businesses.
The book explores the huge role of sheet music in advertisement and how music was used to persuade people to move to L.A. What was this impact?
Kun: A large part of the sheet music in the collection is from the early 20th century period. We’ve seen lots of scholarship about how the tourist industry and railroad industry and chamber of commerce advertised to get people to move here, but we’ve seen very little about music’s role in that story. A lot of these songs read like the ultimate booster pop song: ‘Come to Los Angeles where it’s always sunny.’ Over and over again, we found songs that said, ‘Here, you’ll find love.’ Many of the songs were part of the larger constellation of business interests in Los Angeles by using popular culture to inspire people in other parts of the country to come here.
Most people associate L.A. with the film industry, not the music industry. What was the dynamic between these two industries?
Kun: People associate the early influence of music with the east coast and New York, and they don’t think about it in Los Angeles. Instead they think about Hollywood as the prominent industry of L.A. But Southern California music grew alongside Hollywood and often the two industries were very symbiotic. When people think about the music industry in L.A. they often think about it starting in the 1940s with the rise to prominence of the record company—major and independent—and the expanding market for recordings. But the surprise for me was finding how many sheet music publishers were in L.A. before that time, and how much sheet music was circulating in music stores and at the Los Angeles Public Library.
You could take sheet music and go play piano in the rehearsal rooms at the Library in the early days. Or you could check out the sheet music and take it home to play on the piano or ukulele. Or professional musicians would borrow the sheet music to perform on stage. Sheet music was before the phonograph, vinyl record, CD and MP3, and it was the foundation of the music industry. Songs would only become popular if people could get the sheet music. There was a real presence of sheet music in Los Angeles during that time that hasn’t really been documented anywhere.
What do you hope this book teaches us about this time and place?
Kun: The collection has reinforced for me that everyday people use music everyday. They use it in their personal and domestic lives. Songs are things people use to make sense of the world and make sense of our city and who we are. This sheet music collection is a great example of not just a historical archive, but an archive of use. These songs lived in people’s lives and houses and it mattered to them. I hope the collection shines a light on the relationship between the things we use and the city we live in.
Learn more about all the ways to take part in the Songs in the Key of Los Angeles, including the recent opening of the exhibit at the Central Library, the upcoming ALOUD program featuring a conversation between Kun and members of Quetzal, and an upcoming Grand Performances.
Long before the film industry took root as the cultural and financial epicenter of Hollywood, music paved the way for the growth and development of the Los Angeles we know today. Deep in the archives of the Los Angeles Public Library, there’s a vast sheet music collection from the 1840s through the 1950s, which provides historical insight into the music of Southern California. You probably weren’t aware of such a treasure, and that’s why this summer, the Library Foundation and the Los Angeles Public Library are kicking off “Songs in the Key of L.A.,” the first in a series of collaborations to mine the Library’s vast collections. The project unveils for the first time the world’s only collection of Southern California sheet music and offers a never-before-seen look at the integral role music has played in defining the voice of our city.
Through a comprehensive anthology, new recordings, a special exhibition, a free concert with Grand Performances, and more, the Library Foundation and Library will bring the collection to light for contemporary reflection. “The Los Angeles Public Library is the place for Angelenos to explore, reimagine, and celebrate their history,” said City Librarian John F. Szabo. “We are pleased to bring this incredible collection to light, as it demonstrates this important fact: Public libraries are every-person institutions, where everyone, from scholars to middle schoolers, can unearth treasures that can teach, inspire, and even change their lives.”
“The idea of examining Los Angeles history through the lens of music came from a series of conversations I had with USC Professor Josh Kun, director of The Popular Music Project at USC Annenberg’s Norman Lear Center,” explains Ken Brecher, the president of the Library Foundation. “We talked about ‘mining’ the collections of the Library for forgotten stories and imagined creating a book to showcase the power of music and its imagery in shaping both our sense of history and of home.” Agreeing to lead the research, Josh Kun and a group of his students, working with librarians from the Central Library, combed the Library’s roughly 50,000-piece sheet music collection. The stories Kun discovered—visually breathtaking cover art; a diverse mix of unrecorded jazz, pop, Mexican folks, and blues songs; an empire of unknown music publishers and songwriters—formed a singular portrait of the artistic, cultural, social, and political currents that influenced Los Angeles in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Kicking off the project, on June 1, Angel City Press will publish Songs in the Key of Los Angeles: Sheet Music from the Collection of the Los Angeles Public Library. Written by Kun and with special contributions from musical legends Van Dyke Parks, Stew, and a host of California historians, the anthology showcases more than 100 vintage sheet music covers from the collection, from California lullabies and Los Angeles waltzes, sunshine rags and sunset serenades, to emerging West Coast jazz and the legacy of Mexican folk traditions. Available at bookstores throughout Southern California, the book will also be carried at The Library Store.
That same week, through the Library’s website, the Foundation will release five new recordings of music from the collection by beloved local artists Aloe Blacc, I See Hawks in L.A., Julia Holter, Petrojvic Blasting Company, and La Santa Cecilia. The recording sessions will be showcased online every two weeks in five short documentaries produced by KCET’s transmedia award-winning arts and culture series, Artbound. The first session with I See Hawks will also be featured during the Artbound television series on May 30 at 9 p.m.
On July 1, the exhibition, Songs in the Key of L.A., will open on the first floor of the historic Central Library in Downtown Los Angeles. Featuring a rotating selection of pieces from the collection, the exhibition will use sheet music to explore the early history of Los Angeles’ music industry, civic music culture, and the role of music in shaping key stories central to the making of the city.
On July 13, the Foundation will host Kun, Los Angeles musical icon Van Dyke Parks, and surprise guests for a special evening of song and story specifically for Library Foundation Members. And on July 18, the Foundation’s award-winning ALOUD at the Central Library series gets in on the fun, hosting Kun and musical guest Quetzal (pictured below) for a rare evening of L.A. music history.
On July 25, Grand Performances hosts City Librarian John Szabo and Library Foundation President Ken Brecher for “Off the Shelf: Creating L.A.’s 21st Century Library,” a lively discussion about the future of the Los Angeles Public Library, starting with the “Songs in the Key of L.A.” project.
And finally, on August 2, Grand Performances, in collaboration with the Library Foundation, presents “Songs in the Key of L.A.” the concert. With selections hand-picked by Kun, hometown heroes Ozomatli and special guests will bring songs from the collection to life in a free concert for the people of Los Angeles.
For more information about this and other special collections, visit www.lapl.org.
The Library Store will be holding their annual SUPER SALE, starting this Friday 5/31 in Meeting Room A at Central Library. Hundreds of items are marked 50-75% off, with new items being added daily! Shop early for the best selection!
Friday 5/31 10:00am – 5:30pm
Saturday 6/1 10:00am – 5:30pm
Monday 6/3 10:00am – 7:00pm
Tuesday 6/4 10:00am – 7:00pm
Questions? Call The Library Store (213)228-7550
Want to shop the sale first? Members of The Library Foundation of Los Angeles are invited to a private Members-Only Preview Thursday 5/30 2:00pm – 7:00pm! Become a member of The Library Foundation by clicking HERE or contact Membership Director Erin Sapinoso at email@example.com.
Good news! The Los Angeles Downtown News has nominated the Library Foundation for three Best of Downtown awards: The Library Store in the “Best Bookstore” and “Best Gift/Stationery Shop” categories and ALOUD in the “Best Free Event Series” field! Click on the image above, or go to VoteBestOf.com to cast your vote! Voting starts today and runs through May 25, 2013. And please, spread the word!
Hey Library Foundation Members: we appreciate you, and Member Appreciation Days are just around the corner!
On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, May 3 – 5, 2013, show your Library Foundation Membership card to receive 20% discounts at participating stores and free admission at the following Southern California museums and institutions: