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Join us for a special program on the 25th anniversary of the reopening of the Los Angeles Central Library that brings home the inspiring story of how Central Library rose from the ashes after the catastrophic fire of April 29, 1986. In a new book by New Yorker staff writer and author of seven books, including Rin Tin Tin and The Orchid Thief, Susan Orlean offers a profoundly moving cultural history of the Los Angeles Public Library and its critical civic role since its inception in 1872. Reexamining the unsolved mystery of the biggest library fire in American history that destroyed or damaged more than one million books, Orlean investigates if someone purposefully set fire to the Library—and if so, who? Through this behind-the-scenes look at the Los Angeles Public Library system, Orlean weaves her life-long love of books and reading with the fascinating legacy of libraries across the world. In a conversation with author and Library Foundation Board Member Attica Locke and a surprise librarian guest, Orleans shares from The Library Book—a testament to the importance of all libraries and an homage to a beloved institution that remains a vital part of the heart, mind, and soul of our community today.

Susan Orlean

Susan Orlean has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1992. She is the author of seven books, including Rin Tin Tin, Saturday Night, and The Orchid Thief, which was made into the Academy Award–winning film Adaptation. She lives with her family and her animals in upstate New York.


Attica Locke

Attica Locke’s latest novel Bluebird, Bluebird won the Edgar Award for best novel, and was named as a Best of 2017 book by the New York Times. Her other works include the novels Pleasantville, winner of the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction; Black Water Rising, which was nominated for an Edgar Award; and The Cutting Season, a national bestseller and the winner of the Ernest Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. A former fellow at the Sundance Institute’s Feature Filmmaker’s Lab, Locke has worked as a screenwriter as well.  Most recently, she was a writer and producer on the Fox drama, Empire, and worked with Ava Duvernay on the Netflix project Central Park Five. She is currently developing Bluebird, Bluebird into a TV series with FX. She serves on the board of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles.


Reservation Policy for Free Programs:
As most ALOUD at Central Library programs are free of charge, it is our policy to overbook. In the case of a FULL program your free reservation may not guarantee admission. We recommend arriving early. Space permitting, unclaimed reservations will be released to standby patrons at approximately 7:15 PM.

Standby Policy:
Standby numbers are distributed in person only one hour before the program, on a first-come, first-served, basis. There is no advance wait list for full programs. Standby patrons will be admitted subject to availability. Most programs will be available via podcast.

Book Signing Policy:
ALOUD is one of many free programs at the Los Angeles Public Library made possible by the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. Most ALOUD author programs are followed by book signings. At least one copy of the author’s book must be purchased from The Library Store in order to participate in any post-program book signing, and you will be asked to show proof of purchase. Please be prepared to show your proof of purchase when you enter the book signing line. Proceeds support the Los Angeles Public Library.

Main Image: “Los Angeles Central Library fire” 1986 (c) Security Pacific National Bank Collection, courtesy of the LAPL Photo Collection
Author Image: Attica Locke (c) Mel Melcon, LA Times


Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the reservation policy for ALOUD?

    As most ALOUD at Central Library programs are free of charge, it is our policy to overbook. In the case of a FULL program your free reservation may not guarantee admission. We recommend arriving early. Space permitting, unclaimed reservations will be released to standby patrons at 7 PM.

  • Why do programs fill so quickly?

    ALOUD provides a unique experience for the public to engage with scholars, authors, and artists in the intimate 235-seat Mark Taper Auditorium. Library Foundation Members have the benefit of reserving for programs in advance of the public. Consider joining as a Member to receive this benefit, and check the website on an on-going basis for program availability. Be sure to subscribe to our email alerts, and visit our Media Archive for podcasts and other items from our recent programs.

  • Where does ALOUD take place?

    Unless otherwise noted, ALOUD programs are held at the downtown Central Library’s Mark Taper Auditorium.

  • Where should I park for ALOUD programs?

    We recommend taking public transportation. Parking for the Central Library is at the Westlawn Garage at 524 S. Flower Street. For more information, visit the Library’s website.

  • Should I purchase the author’s book in advance?

    We encourage you to purchase books from the Library Store. All proceeds benefit the Los Angeles Public Library. Books are made available for purchase when you reserve for a program online, and are also on sale at programs. In order to participate in the book signing, you must purchase at least one book from The Library Store. Members receive discounts on purchases.


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