A Summer of Learning at the Library

The Library Foundation has been a longtime supporter of the Summer Reading Club — Los Angeles Public Library’s longest running program — and this year it will be easier for more participants to engage with than ever before. Mayor Garcetti has announced that this summer will be a “Summer of Learning” in Los Angeles, based on Chicago’s model in 2013. The reading clubs, which foster literacy and learning when students are out of school, will be a core component of “Summer of Learning,” offering students the chance to earn digital badges through a City website for completing game boards, for volunteering 20 hours, and for participating in science workshops.

Pause to Read Artwork

Running from June 9 to August 2, this year’s reading theme is “Paws to Read,” and will feature a range of fun animal activities like origami, puppet shows, crafts, robot building, science workshops, and more. The game boards that help guide students through a fun reading journey will be more readily available this summer—in the branches, at schools, and online.

Paws to Read LogoPlus, the Library has teamed up with the Los Angeles Zoo, along with The Getty Center, The Skirball Cultural Center, LACMA, the California Science Center, and the Natural History Museum to make the game boards more interactive through animal photos and artwork, and to encourage kids to visit all of these important educational institutions.

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

The Library Store Summer Sale!

The Library Store will be holding its annual sale starting this Friday, May 30! Stop on by The Library Store for a huge selection of items marked down 50% to 75% off. Sale’s on while supplies last, so shop early for the best selection. New items will be added daily. The selection will include jewelry, cards, books, children’s toys, t-shirts, and much much more! See you there!

Questions? Call The Library Store at 213.228.7550.

Bookmark This #20

Happy Memorial Day weekend, everyone!  Here are a few reading recommendations for you to consider as you gather with family and friends for beach excursions, barbeques and bonfires.

If you’d like to contribute a reading recommendation to an upcoming issue of Bookmark This, contact Erin Sapinoso at erinsapinoso@lfla.org.


Marisela Norte is an author of poetry and fiction.  Her poems have been featured on MTA TV as part of the “Out the Window” project and were recently selected among the best transit poems in the world by The Atlantic Monthly.

Marisela recommends Sleepless Nights by Elizabeth Hardwick.

“Beyond the deep Morroccan blue window sill, the chipped paint overlooking another row of windows and the rusted  movie marquee on the cover of Elizabeth Hardwick’s Sleepless Nights, are her stories.  Like broken pieces of jewelry tucked away for safe keeping should they ever be put together again, Hardwick’s scattered gems, her reflections, girlhood memories, and stories are a late night phone call that invites the strongest black coffee and cigarettes to listen in.  Observations of family, husbands, lovers or strangers on train platforms, in candlelit dining rooms or on vacation inside their own loneliness.  ‘If only one knew what to remember or pretend to remember,’ she writes ‘Make a decision and what you want from the lost things will present itself.  You can take it down from the shelf like a can.  Perhaps.’  I have chosen Elizabeth Hardwick’s Sleepless Nights as my personal surveyor, all of her questions laid out like a map of where I am going.”


Barbara Bilson is an 80-year-old Californian, born in Long Beach, raised in Los Angeles, educated at Fairfax High School, Stanford, and UCLA.  Though officially retired, she still teaches–memoir writing and Jewish literature at Leo Baeck Temple–and leading book-discussion groups.  In addition, she has a wonderful time with family, including 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, and bird-watching, stamp collecting, and travelling.

Barbara recommends Mary Coin by Marisa Silver.

“It’s a pleasure to read a book that is beautifully written, tells an interesting story, and explores significant issues without being ponderous.  Marisa Silver’s Mary Coin is such a book.  Using spare, unsentimental language, Silver tells a fictionalized version of the momentary encounter between photographer Dorothea Lange and Florence Owens Thompson, the woman portrayed in Lange’s famous ‘Migrant Mother.’  Vera and Mary, their names in the novel, meet for the brief time it takes for Vera to snap pictures of Mary and her children at a migrant workers’ camp–a meeting that affects the lives of each woman.

Silver tells Vera’s and Mary’s story both before and after the photographic event, bringing into the plot the wholly fictional Walker Dodge, a social historian whose search for the ephemera of people’s lives leads us to issues Silver weaves into her tale: the ways in which an event changes depending on who is remembering it; the difference between looking at something and seeing it; and both the truth and the lie inherent in a photograph, a memory, time itself.  As Eugenia Williamson writes in the Boston Globe, ‘Mary Coin is a lovely and deeply satisfying read.’  I couldn’t agree more.”


Dennis Signorovitch is a long-time Member of the Library Foundation.

Dennis recommends American Romantic by Ward Just.

“Ward Just’s American Romantic is a writerly excursion through familiar Just territory: Vietnam, Washington, D.C., American embassies with all the acute observations he can offer. The drama of his main character’s experience in the jungle early in the book and then again much later in the book when he suffers a personal loss is quite intense. There’s also a clear-eyed, unsentimental meditation on old age with its infirmities and losses.  And yet, the ending is unabashedly romantic.”


Ela Jhaveri is a long-standing supporter of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles and Member of The Council.

Ela recommends Stoner by John Williams.

“I just read a book that I highly recommend – a book that I learned so much from – Stoner by John Williams.  The main character fulfills his life doing what he loves and believes in despite all the disappointments and struggles of relationships and career.  It is so much about a character of a person and his inner life and not the way the society is today, where to many, what seems to matter is material success and what you project to the world outside on social media etc.  There is a fabulous review in The New York Times Magazine (May 9, 2014) that should be read before reading this novel.”


Katie Dunham is Communications Director for the Library Foundation.  Originally from Tennessee, she loves dachshunds, loud music, and USC.

Katie recommends Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade by Walter Kirn.

“As an avid reader of true crime, I was excited when I heard that Walter Kirn would be on the ALOUD schedule this spring with his new book about the Clark Rockefeller case. His interview in April (which you can listen to in podcast) was riveting, so I ran home with my new copy of the book that night and dove in immediately. What I found in the reading though was less a documentation of sordid details than Kirn’s own exploration of his strange 15-year friendship with the conman and convicted murderer. Kirn wonders how he had been so easily fooled, why he had been so complicit in allowing the wool to be pulled over his eyes – making for a much more illuminating account. The way Kirn unfolds his story builds less to an unveiling of the criminal’s motive than to a self-realization.”


These books – and more than six million others in print, audio and digital formats – are available through the Central Library, 72 branches and lapl.org.

Happy reading, and stay tuned for the next issue of Bookmark This!

Vote for Us!

Spread the word! The Library Foundation has been nominated in three different categories for the Los Angeles Downtown News Best of Downtown Readers Choice Awards: The Library Store for “Best Gift and Stationery Shop” and “Best Bookstore,” and Aloud for “Best Free Event Series!” Our beloved Central Library is also up for “Best Family Attraction.” So head on over to votebestof.com to cast your vote. Voting ends May 30, so don’t delay!


All Aboard! Don’t Miss the Trains at Central Library

Earlier this month 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 is the first exhibition to examine the significance of the architectural design and cultural politics of the historic station. The exhibit is free and open to the public during regular library hours at the downtown Central Library through August 10.

As part of the exhibit, the Library Foundation has made it possible for various train clubs–including the Southern California Traction Club pictured above and below–to have model trains running in the Getty Gallery on selected dates. Check out the schedule below and bring the family for this rare chance to see these incredible trains let loose in the Library.

No Further West is organized by the Getty Research Institute with the generous participation of the Automobile Club of Southern California.





Three Writers (De)construct Form at ALOUD

On next Tuesday, May 20th, three innovative and genre-crossing writers will take the ALOUD stage for “Sentence After Sentence After Sentence,” to discuss their own unique relationships to form—or lack their of. Moderated by the novelist Jim Krusoe, Anne Germanacos, Dinah Lenney, and Matias Viegener will consider the power of “structure” to challenge, propel, de-rail, shape, cloud, elevate, illuminate, or simply extend the impulses of their writing. To get a sense of the myriad ways this conversation may itself take shape, we caught up with the three writers to share a sample of their writing.

Anne Germanacos:

 “The following page gives a sense of the way the text moves—something like a mind —requiring the reader to relinquish certain expectations of narration and surrender to the flow, which has its own logic and rewards.” –The excerpt below is from Tribute, her new experimentation with narrative.

rejoicing, in my own quiet but occasionally sole-slapping way


maintaining tension, modulating it


full moon—mooning around


Holding onto a secret has its price: you pay until you can’t.


Like a good analyst, like a good mother, a story holds.


(a sliver of perfection)


Some organizing part of me goes dumb.


no ledge, no circle of earth, no leg


Shaping, you kill.


some half-assed Michelangelo, chipping away




one line for me, and another line for me


(within her sight)

Dinah Lenney:

“This new collection of interconnected essays marches to a provocative premise: what if one way to understand your life were to examine the objects within it? Which Objects would you choose? What memories do they hold? And lined up in a row, what stories do they have to tell?” –The following excerpt is from “Ferris Wheel,” an essay in The Object Parade from Counterpoint Press.


When the kids were small, when I would have done about anything to break up a Sunday afternoon, I once took them down to some sort of festival in Echo Park, where there wasn’t a Ferris wheel the day before, and there wouldn’t be one the next; but presto, there it was, and they wanted a ride. I bought three yellow tickets, then seated myself between them holding tight to their hands. Back we swung back with a jolt, and then forward and up: no belts, no latches, no straps of any kind—just a metal bar in front of us—lucky for me, they were (they are) good children, sensible and fundamentally kind; not about to let go, not about to lean too far over the side, even then as concerned for me as I was for them—and even so, I rued the decision. Anyway, I thought. This will be over soon and we will be fine.

Up, up we went, till we saw the tops of the oaks, the palms, the old magnolias—below us, the lotuses blooming velvety against the black of the lake—though, I admit, I only saw all that from the corner of my eye, afraid as I was to be distracted from my task, which was to focus straight ahead as if we weren’t climbing higher and higher (too high), swinging precariously this way and that; as if my stomach hadn’t dropped, as if I weren’t breathing hard, a sour taste on the back of my tongue. My job, howbeit, to will us around and down again, onto our feet, on which we’d walk, like sensible bi-peds, to the boathouse to rent something small with paddles or oars, which I’d navigate all by myself, thanks, between and among the swans.

But then—then in the middle of this act of will something went wrong—the Ferris wheel stopped at the highest point, and we dangled there, for minutes—for many minutes—and I considered this contraption, which would be in pieces and packed into the back of a truck by nightfall; wondered how sturdy it might not be—looked up at the carriage swaying, creaking in its joint as if it might snap, and, I thought, Well, if we must die, we will die together. “Ssshhhhh,” I said to the children, who hadn’t uttered a word, both of them beaming, thrilled to be above the trees.


Matias Viegener:

“My book 2500 Random Things About Me Too was generated almost by accident, starting with a single list of 25 random things about myself that I felt less than enthusiastic about. The list was a meme going around on Facebook, what I saw as a kind of forced intimacy in a medium that was already about the highly staged presentation of self for the hopeless goal of getting attention.  So in my contrary way, I composed another list, and then another, a hundred in total.  As often happens, repetition is instructive, even meditative. The form opened up, gave me a way to think through lists, randomness, the construct of “things,” the concept of “aboutness” and finally, belatedness.  We’re never the first at any scene, whether it be a love story, a sonnet or an experimental form.  As I tried to capture what was “about me,” the concept of the unified self was ever more elusive, but something else took its place: a cloud of words, stories and details.    

I never had the impulse to write a memoir, but if I did it would have to be an assemblage in many parts, and would need to capture my confusion about where I let off and the world begins.  It couldn’t have any particular order, and it would have to emerge in a spontaneous, unpremeditated way.  The only way I can talk about me is to occupy myself with a task, make it a game, and let it lead me along until I find a stopping point.  That’s the main thing perhaps, it would have to have neither a beginning nor an end.  It would have to start, find something to say, and then stop.”

Read an excerpt of Matias’ book at the Les Figues website. And here’s an article for The Huffington Post about how he wrote a book on Facebook.

To learn more about these authors and make a free reservation to the upcoming ALOUD program, click here.


Spend the Summer with ALOUD!

Next month, ALOUD launches into its summer season with 11 wide-ranging programs exploring performance, identity, animals, writing, and more. Join us!

On Tuesday, June 3, the season kicks off with a special visit to the U.S. by acclaimed English author Edward St. Aubyn in conversation with KCRW “Bookworm” Michael Silverblatt about Lost for Words, his first work since completing The Patrick Melrose Novels.

ONE Magazine covers from the 1950s and 1960s, courtesy of ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries

Performance takes center stage as veterans of the dance world Wendy Perron, Simone Forti, and Victoria Marks convene on Tuesday, June 10 to discuss new ways of bringing words and movement together. Later, on Monday, June 23, ALOUD joins with WordTheatre to present the newest epistolary from celebrated author and playwright Denis Johnson, “The Starlight on Idaho.” In this unique adaptation – not quite a story and not quite a play – actors Chris Bauer (True Blood), Jeff Perry (Scandal), and others bring voice to Johnson’s adventurous words, with Johnson joining the crew for a post-performance Q&A.

On Saturday, June 28, in collaboration with ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, ALOUD presents “DearONE,” a dramatic reading of letters from ordinary queer Americans written to L.A.’s ONE Magazine, the first openly gay and lesbian periodical in the United States.

Machine Project, one of L.A.’s most experimental and dynamic programming teams, turns their curatorial eye to the Central Library on Saturday, July 26. Through sound, dance, and site-specific video installations, artists from the gallery will transform various areas of the Library into an interactive multimedia playground, inviting the audience to explore the space in new and unique ways.

On Wednesday, June 18, renowned writers Michelle Huneven and Mona Simpson delve into a discussion about love’s tangled and complex morality on the occasion of their new books with eminent psychoanalyst and theorist Dr. Christopher Bollas. Genre-defying British writer Geoff Dyer shares from his new book, Another Great Day at Sea, on Thursday, June 26.

Science historian Laurel Braitman, science writer Kathryn Bowers, and cardiologist Barbara Natterson-Horowitz discuss the astonishing connection between human and animal health on Thursday, July 10. danah boyd, a principal researcher at Microsoft Research, skewers misunderstandings and anxieties about the online lives of teens with media scholar Henry Jenkins on Tuesday, July 29.

Novelist and journalist Francisco Goldman reflects on the challenges of embracing Mexico City as home in his new poetic and philosophical work, The Interior Circuit: A Mexico City Chronicle on Thursday, July 17. And closing out the season on July 30, writer and former Clinton speechwriter and policy advisor Eric Liu examines the rise of the Chinese American dream in his new collection of personal essays, A Chinaman’s Chance: One Family’s Journey and the Chinese American Dream.

The ALOUD summer calendar is now online, so make your reservations for these free programs before it’s too late!

Mother’s Day is Sunday!

Mother’s Day is just around the corner! Luckily, The Library Store is here to help you out. ;) Here are our top 5 picks to put a smile on Mom’s face…

For the Stylish Mom:

LAPL Women’s T-shirt from Out of Print






For the Crafty Mom:

Book Art by Clare Youngs







For the Organized Mom:

Library Card Address Box






For the Health Conscious Mom:

Cuppow! Drinking Lid






For the Hollywood Mom:

Ann Dvorak: Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel by Christina Rice






And don’t forget our selection of great Mother’s Day cards! Also, if you’re still in need of the right gift and happen to be in the Valley on Saturday, May 10, we’ll be On Wheels at the Melrose Trading Post at Taft Charter High School in Woodland Hills from 9am to 3pm!

No Further West: The Story of Los Angeles Union Station

Over a century ago, the city fathers of Los Angeles imagined that one day their gritty frontier town would become California’s major metropolitan hub. In order to position its status as a progressive, prosperous community, Los Angeles would first need a Union Station. For decades the fathers fought the railroads to build the station, and when they finally agreed, the railroad planners examined issues of economic growth, urban expansion, and transportation logistics that continue to shape the Los Angeles we know today.

LAPL Photo collection. Union Station, 1940.

On May 2, a new exhibit marking the 75th anniversary of Union Station opens at the Central Library. No Further West is the first exhibition to examine the significance of this architectural and civic landmark. Featuring stunning historic drawings from the Getty Research Institute that have never been shared with the public, the exhibit will showcase original renderings by John and Donald B. Parkinson, the father-son architectural team who designed this gateway to the West. Photographs of trains, depots, the original Chinatown that was razed to make way for Union Station and the grand three-day opening ceremony will be on display along with maps and ephemera—much of which is from The Huntington Library. Rare books from the Los Angeles Public Library’s collection will be on hand to tell the story of Union Station’s past—highlighting the immense Spanish Fantasy influences.

Alameda Street Elevation, Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal, July 16, 1936. Los Angeles, Getty Research Institute © J. Paul Getty Trust

“Union Station has this interesting tension of looking back and looking forward,” says Marlyn Musicant, the senior exhibitions coordinator at the Getty Research Institute who is curating No Further West. She explains how at the time the aesthetic of the station’s Mission Revival appearance juxtaposed with the modern trains that were very much about the promise of the machine age. Continuing to look ahead to the future, author and critic Greg Goldin will curate a section of the exhibit featuring vision plans that architects have recently proposed for Union Station in 2050.

Main Concourse Section XII, March 6, 1938. Edward Warren Hoak. Los Angeles, Getty Research Institute © J. Paul Getty Trust

The Los Angeles Public Library, which was built during the same era and less than two miles away from Union Station, presented the perfect venue for this very L.A. story. “At a time when there is a resurgence of activity in downtown L.A.—especially the historic core—and an increasing interest in expanding our rail system, it’s fitting to celebrate this beautiful landmark within the walls of another of the city’s treasured buildings,” says Musicant.

Ticket Concourse, Union Station, 2013.  Photo by John Kiffe. Los Angeles, Getty Research Institute. ©  J. Paul Getty Trust
Ticket Concourse, Union Station, 2013. Photo by John Kiffe. Los Angeles, Getty Research Institute. © J. Paul Getty Trust

The exhibit is free and open to the public during regular library hours at the Central Library’s Getty Gallery through August 10. A series of related events will be held in conjunction with the exhibit, including changing displays of model trains by various train clubs on selected dates:

May 17 & 18 Southern California Traction Club  www.trolleyville.com
May 24-June 1 Group 160   www.group160.org
June 7 & 8 San Luis Obispo Model Railroad Assoc.   www.slomra.org
June 14 & 15 Orange County Module Railroaders   www.trainweb.org/ocmra
June 21 & 22 NTrak Express   www.ntrakexpress.com
June 28 & 29 Antelope Valley Nscalers   www.avns.av.org
July 12 & 13 NTrak Express
July 19 & 20 Orange County “N”Gineers   www.ocngineers.com
July 26 & 27 ZoCal    https://vimeo.com/groups/31397
Aug 2 & 3 Pacific Coast Modular Club   www.pctrainclub.org
Aug 9 & 10 Group 160

On May 29, ALOUD will be hosting a special panel on No Further West—members of the Union Station Master Plan team, an architectural historian (and exhibition curator), and the vice-president of the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California—will discuss the history of this architectural icon and share visions for its future. Make your free reservation to the ALOUD program here.

Learn more about the exhibit and other special events at the Library.