The Council of the Library Foundation
Narrative History 1994-2017
The Council of the Library Foundation was created in 1994 through the vision of Flora Thornton who attended the Gala Dinner celebrating the re-opening of the Central Library on October 3, 1993. She admired the beautifully renovated and expanded facility and expressed a need for a group of volunteers to increase public awareness of the Los Angeles Public Library and its programs and services.
Lodwrick M. Cook, Founding Chairman of the Library Foundation invited Mrs. Thornton to lunch to discuss organizing a support group for the Library. He offered to launch the group with an invitation to the Arco-sponsored Prince of Wales Business Leaders Forum, held in the Library’s Mark Taper Auditorium on November 4, 1994.
At that event, Joni Smith graciously accepted Mrs. Thornton’s invitation to create The Council. Shortly afterward, an organizational meeting was held in Joni’s home. Those in attendance included Joni Smith, Caroline Ahmanson, Nancy Livingston, Jean Smith, Flora Thornton, Nancy Vreeland and Library Foundation Executive Director Evelyn Hoffman. Joni served as President of The Council until June 1997.
The Council settled into the format of Fall and Spring membership meetings and 4-6 author programs during the September-May season in the Central Library, followed by dinners with the author.
1997 was also the 125thanniversary of the founding of the Los Angeles Public Library. The Council participated by hosting its first series of citywide dinners to benefit library programs for children, youth and families. Co-chairs were Joni Smith and Nancy Vreeland. The dinners were so successful that they have continued biannually and are currently known as The Literary Feasts.
The Council has completed its 23rd season of literary programs which now includes 8-9 luncheons or dinners with an author. The Council has grown dramatically with 44 charter members in 1995 and in 2017 has over 400 members.
The Council’s contribution to the Los Angeles Public Library has grown exponentially as well. Council members have been responsible for securing more than $26 million in private contributions for Los Angeles Public Library programs and services since 1994.