As more Angelenos depend on the resources and services of the Los Angeles Public Library, the support of our beloved Library continues to grow. With record-breaking participation of kids and teens in Summer at the Library, the first graduating class of the Library’s innovative new Career Online High School, and the expansion of crucial technology initiatives to name a few, the Library Foundation saw another landmark year in 2016 with its work to ensure that the Los Angeles Public Library continues to thrive as a cultural, civic, and educational community center. Before we look ahead to a new year, here’s a look back at some of our brightest moments from the last year.
This year’s slate of ALOUD programs included timely conversations with literary award-winners, trailblazing activists, explorers of science and science fiction, journalists, and more. National Book Award-winner Colson Whitehead shared from The Underground Railroad and two of this year’s Pulitzer Prize winners took the ALOUD stage—William Finnegan with his Pulitzer-winning biography Barbarian Days and Viet Thanh Nguyen discussed his acclaimed novel The Sympathizer.
ALOUD audiences were inspired by a dynamic group of poets throughout the year from Sharon Olds and Robin Coste Lewis exploring issues of body, race, and identity to the legendary Eileen Myles and Maggie Nelson reflecting on their poetic roots, to Kate Tempest’s impassioned call to artists about the role literature plays in our human experience.
ALOUD also celebrated the legacy of artists and activists who have greatly impacted our world from a live radio broadcast honoring the work of James Baldwin, to a lively tribute to Prince, to a look back at 50 years of the Black Panther Party—below members of this groundbreaking social movement discuss the importance of allies.
In this year of heightened political unrest, ALOUD participants helped us to make sense of the world around us. Hisham Matar discussed America’s tendency to simplify the complex histories of countries in Africa and the Middle East, including Libya, his homeland.
Other Cultural Programs
Beyond ALOUD, the Library Foundation hosted its 3rd in a series of projects to examine a classic text through a Southern California lens—this year’s Hollywood is a Verb tackled the epic Oxford English Dictionary and featured over 60 citywide programs, including “A Very L.A. Spelling Bee,” an unprecedented Spanish and English language spelling bee in which 13-year-old Cooper Komatsu (pictured below) beat out the adults!
Members of the Library Foundation were invited to take part in a writing seminar with local playwright Brighde Mullins and Phyllis Nagy, the screenwriter of Carol. Lost & Found at the Movies returned for a year of cinematic conversations, including a talk with genre-bending filmmaker John Landis.
In the fall, the Foundation launched a public celebration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s legacy that featured citywide programming throughout branch libraries and Amercia’s Shakespeare: The Bard Goes West, a special exhibition at Central Library in partnership with the Folger Shakespeare Library.
As The Bard Goes West showed, Shakespeare’s influences are all around us. One of our favorite moments from a year of many lively gatherings with the Young Literati included actress Constance Wu performing the St. Crispin’s Day speech from Henry V at the Young Literati Summer Social.
2016 Literary Awards
“Books and beauty are united. Literature happens in gorgeous, magical, important places. This is something that has shaped my entire life,” said Ann Patchett, this year’s recipient of the Los Angeles Public Library Literary Award. Patchett, along with Joan Hotchkis, a dedicated member of The Council since 1994 who received the Light of Learning Award for advocacy, were honored at the Foundation’s 24th anniversary celebration—the special benefit raised over $1 million in funds in support for the Los Angeles Public Library.
The Library Store
In a year of many milestones, one of the biggest projects for the year was a newly expanded and redesigned Library Store to better serve the increasing bustle of patrons and passersby pouring through the Central Library’s lobby. With an expanded retail space of almost 1200 square feet, a completely remodeled interior featuring new displays cases, lighting, fixtures, and a host of improved ADA updates, The Library Store reopened on April 28. The Library Store donates five percent of all sales to the Los Angeles Public Library and is also the official bookseller for all ALOUD events.
Along with the new brick and mortar storefront at Central Library, The Library Store also launched an enhanced and streamlined digital store as well. On the Library Foundation’s website you’ll also find a new and improved online Media Archive so you can easily search and share videos and podcasts from over two decades of past cultural programs and check out specially curated sections like ALOUD’s “Top Ten of 2016.” Our social media presence also upped its game by pulling from the library shelves for #BookFaceFriday.
Finally, all of these activities throughout the year would not be possible without the dedicated support of our Members. We launched our first-ever Members Month in July full of special events and benefits in appreciation of all of our dedicated Library supporters! Thanks to all of our supporters for a successful 2016 and Happy New Year from the Library Foundation!