Thursday, December 22, 2016

San Fernando Valley Season's Greetings in 1962

These photos from the Valley Times (part of the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection) captured the holiday spirit of the San Fernando Valley in 1962. Street decorations were plentiful throughout the Valley, and the aerospace influence and individual creativity are pretty impressive!
Photograph caption dated December 18, 1962 reads, "Debbie Richardson, 5, Van Nuys, gets a thrilling ride hanging onto Rudolph's antlers as Santa steadies his mechanized sleigh and 'team' for a visit to the Salvation Army's Van Nuys Corps, 14933 Victory Blvd., Van Nuys, from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday. Robert Richardson, 8, Van Nuys, waits for his turn. The sleigh will be loaded with candy treats for all the children who visit Santa. For those who want to help Santa, containers will be available for donations of cans of food for needy families." (Photo from the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection)

Photograph article dated December 16, 1962 partially reads, "When you talk Christmas around a certain Miller household in Van Nuys, you'd better use capital letters. And underline it...'The decorations reflect years and years of the family enjoying themselves together,' Mrs. Miller said. 'We're a tradition-bound family. It's something we've had since my sons and daughter were children and now I couldn't do away with it if I tried. That's the strength of a family,' she said. 'It holds families together.'" (Photo from the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection)

Photograph caption dated December 17, 1962 reads, "Studio City features bells on Ventura Blvd. at Vantage Ave." Visible signs include Sinclair Paints, Valley Lighting and Lamps, Doll House, marquee reading The Three Ks Dancing, Picture Framing, a bowling alley, Standard gas station, Chevron gas station, Riding and Play Clothes, Valley Gem Shop, a record store. (Photo from the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection)
Photograph caption dated December 17, 1962 reads, "Northridge sends greetings from Reseda Blvd. and Roscoe Blvd." Visible signs include Citizens National Bank, Mick's Grill, a Mexican restaurant, Stores for Lease, Childrens Sample Land, an Optician, Cleaners, Beauty Salon, a real estate office, Nittin, Wood Pit Barbecue, a car wash. (Photo from the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection)
Photograph caption dated December 17, 1962 reads, "Van Nuys offers lots of angels." Visible signs include Pep Boys, Shoe repair, Zenith, Dr. Scholl's, TV, Coffee Shop, Shop E-Z Mattress, Surplus, Credit Dentist - Dr. Rossin (?), Drugs, a Schlitz billboard, another Credit Dentist. (Photo from the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection)
Photograph caption dated December 17, 1962 reads, "Sunland-Tujunga, East from Foothill Blvd." Legible signs include Meats-Deli-Fish-Poultry, cocktails, Pet Shop, saddlery, Richfield, Trailer Park, Rooms-Apartments, Florist, Mutual Savings, and another florist. (Photo from the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection)
Photograph caption dated December 18, 1962 reads, "Magnolia Park: east on Magnolia Blvd. from Hollywood Way." Visible signs include Bender (?) Furniture, Men's Shoes, Penny's Flowers, Park (?) Jewelers, Security First National Bank, insurance, Supreme Radio, California movie theater, Thrifty drugs, Cockneys, Beauty supply, Cozy Cove, Typewriters, Beneficial Finance Co.-Loans, Verners (?) Shoes, Hi-Shop, corset, upholstering, restaurant, travel, Flying A Service, liquor, car wash, another liquor store.(Photo from the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection)
Photograph caption dated December 18, 1962 reads, "San Fernando: Decorations fill sky along San Fernando Rd." Visible signs include Town House cocktails, Liquor - park in rear, Western Union, Bill's Valley Tavern cocktails, Seaboard, Hardware-Power Tools, Goodyear Tires. (Photo from the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection)
Photograph caption dated December 22, 1962 reads, "Reseda: looking west along Sherman Way from Lindley Ave to Etiwanda Ave." Visible signs include Metropolitan Savings, Pep Boys. In the island is an "I Want YOU for U.S. Army" poster, created by James Flagg. (Photo from the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection)

Photograph caption dated December 20, 1962 reads, "Santa and reindeer race across roof at 5813 Lubao Ave., Woodland Hills." (Photo from the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection)
Photograph caption dated December 23, 1962 reads, "Santa rides rocket at 638 Magnolia Blvd., Burbank." (Photo from the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection)
Photograph caption dated December 22, 1962 reads, "Canoga Park: lights sparkle along Sherman Way business district." Visible signs include Hardware, Style Shop, 5 and 10, Jewelers, Green Thumb Hardware Garden Center, United California Bank, Pharmacy, Safeway, Bank of America. (Photo from the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection)

Photograph caption dated December 18, 1962 reads, "Tarzana: between Mecca and Wilbur Ave. on Ventura Blvd." Visible signs include Custom Interiors Furniture, Paul White Carnaham Realty Co., Avalon Motel, pet shop, Citizens National Bank, Fox. (Photo from the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection)

Photograph caption dated December 17, 1962 reads, "Sherman Oaks, west on Ventura at Van Nuys." Visible signs include Free Parking 4 Doors West, Tailors, Custom Furniture, Cleaners, Clark Jewelers, Repair, Bakery, Sherman Oaks Savings and Loan, Hiskoff's, tailor, dept store, Mark's Valley Drugs, market, liquor. (Photo from the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection)

Photograph caption dated December 23, 1962 reads, "Santa rides rocket at 638 Magnolia Blvd., Burbank." (Photo from the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Circa 1940 - How do you use the Los Angeles Public Library?

Do you remember how you learned to use the library?  Perhaps through a school field trip or a parent took you and explained the ropes.  For some people they go years between visits to a public library and have to re-learn that nonfiction is broken done (generally) by the Dewey decimal system and that fiction is shelved alphabetically by the author’s last name.  But there is more to know to get the fullest benefit of what a public library has to offer.
With that in mind, City Librarian Althea Warren compiled the Los Angeles Public Library Handbook of Central Library Collections in 1940.  The handbook served as gentle instruction on potentially daunting tasks such as obtaining a library card, finding a book in the catalog, and locating the item on the shelves.  One thing that I felt was lacking in the handbook was a reassurance that reference librarians do not bite and are there to help guide you in your search for information.  Each of these things, how to get a card, find what you are looking for, ask for help, are still obstacles for some patrons today.
There are interesting facts revealed throughout the handbook.  For example, having a phone book/city directory listing in your name, along with a photo ID, was the quickest way to get a library card in 1940.  The oldest holding specifically mentioned in the handbook is a 1535 edition of Ptolemy.  
Originally priced at 25 cents, the 60-page handbook is a fascinating glimpse into the workings of a pre-WWII Central Library.  With only two floors open to the public they packed a lot of knowledge into a small area, and each specialized department is still recognizable today.   Compare maps of the 1940 Central Library to the renovated library today.

In 1940, the first floor featured Teachers and Children’s books, Genealogy, International languages, Philosophy and Religion, Periodicals, Newspapers, the bindery, and the lecture and exhibits room.  (Today it holds the Popular library, Circulation desks, Library Store, Security, Meeting Rooms, and cafe.)

The second floor in 1940 featured History, Sociology, Science and Industry, Fiction, Literature, Art, Music, the Map room, and the California Room.  The Circulation counters were located in the Rotunda that features Dean Cornwell’s murals.  All that remains of the card catalog can be seen there as well.  (Today its the Children's section, Teen'scape and the Getty Gallery.)

Each specialized department is given several pages in the handbook.  Specific Department Librarians summarize their department beginning with where it is located within the Central Library.  Additional information given includes the (then) current total of books in each Dewey decimal subclass, certain items in the collection are highlighted, the most-used reference materials in the department are listed, and oftentimes needs or goals of the department are communicated.
Want to know more? You can read Los Angeles Public Library Handbook of Central Library Collections for yourself at the Central Library!  (Call number: REF 027.47949 L881-8 1940)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Los Angeles Library Tour - Altadena Main Library

How has this library gone under our radar for so many years? We've been through Altadena. We've had friends who live in Altadena. And yet, we've never visited either of their two libraries. 
We finally made up for lost visits a couple of weekends ago. The library is almost hidden in the woodsy foothills at the corner of Mariposa and Santa Rosa Avenue (aka Christmas Tree Lane). Walking inside, a sense of familiarity and comfort takes over. The library, designed by Boyd Georgi & Associates (from Altadena) was opened in 1967.  There have been some modernizations, but for the most part, it feels like 1967 in the best possible way
There are beautiful sculptures at both entryways.  Wood relief panels surround the desks. 

The children's room has a colorful mural.

The feature we loved the most there is a sunken reading area in the center of the library, complete with palm tree planter. (We hear they are looking for landscapers to propose a new design to fill the planters.
We were astounded at some of the books and cds in their collection. Thankfully the library has held onto the amazing collection they've built over the years instead of excessively weeding it of its charm.  They have incredible art and photography books, lots of jazz cds, and local history books we haven't seen at any other library. We checked out a boxful on our first visit. They had Glenn Bray's The Blighted Eye! I can't find that anywhere!
This library is a hidden gem in the forest, absolutely worth a visit.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Los Angeles Library Tour- Grant R. Brimhall Library (aka Thousand Oaks' main library)

Close your eyes and imagine the library Buck Rogers visits. Its likely that the Grant R. Brimhall Library in Thousand Oaks might be a close proximity. I would even describe my initial impression of the library as 'breathtaking.'

A quick zip around the fiction and non-fiction section revealed a nice selection and the library definitely has little touches that show they have the customer in mind.

Things like:

*A sorting shelf at the end of each row that indicates the newly returned books that are waiting to be reshelved but available to be checked out.

* Signage is plentiful and informative but not overwhelming.

* Fliers for events are strategically placed throughout the library (and again, not overwhelming).

* The placement of the public computer stations allows a greater amount of room between you and the neighboring computer.

* They have an honor system coffee cart and vending machines with bottled water.

* Their library foundation runs a gift shop.

* There are lots of spaces to sit and get lost in a book.

*It is quiet without being oppressively quiet.

Aside from the architecture, there are several things that make this library unique. They have a huge children's section (easily larger than any other Southern California library I've been to) which has a large fish tank at its entrance (similar to the Cerritos library), is well-maintained, and has an incredible selection of puppets that are available to check out. PUPPETS!

If at all possible plan your visit to coincide with the hours that the Special Collections room is open (currently Tuesday and Wednesday 1 to 5pm, and Thursday 5 to 8pm). Besides being a remarkable repository of local history, the Special Collections librarian, Jeannette Berard, can show you the library's piece de resistance- the American Radio Archive. Established in 1984 to preserve and document the history of radio. What started as a collection of radio history, it has grown to include all of broadcasting. They have sound recordings, scripts, dvds, and a whole lot of books on every aspect of broadcasting. Its very easy to while away a few hours at this library.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Los Angeles Library Tour - Inglewood Public Library + UPDATE

The day started off innocently enough, we were heading towards Inglewood to see Helen Lundeberg's WPA mural "The History of Transportation." I only had a vague idea of where it was located and we did our usual 'lets hit up anything that looks interesting along the way.' After the obligatory stop at Randy's donuts we headed east on Manchester and passed by a very cool intaglio piece snaking up the side of a building. We circled the block to get a closer view and discovered signs pointing us to a public library.

Highlights included:
The largest(circa 1972)poured-in-place intaglio sculpture known in the world by artist Tom Van Sant.

The ability to check out Criswell Predicts From Now To the Year 2000 (1968), in which the Amazing Criswell prognosticates computers ('education and newspapers which will be available through your TV') and same-sex marriage (though he did think it would happen in England by 1972). Its been a fun read.

They have artwork available for circulation!

Inglewood's former Library Director John W.Perkins (1962 to ?)must have been a hell of a guy. The collection developed by the library during his tenure is amazing. There are so many volumes here that I haven't seen in other systems. We'll be sure to check out their online catalog before our next visit, similar to LAPL's Central Branch they have more material in a depository downstairs, but are happy to retrieve the items.

The parking lot was metered and unfortunately we didn't have enough change in the car for more than an hour of browsing but the quick tour we made, and the new library card we acquired, ensures that we'll be back.

*** UPDATE ***

The above blog post has been sitting in my drafts file for a year (our original visit was May 24, 2013). Aside from the fact a year flies by in the blink of an eye, here is what else I learned within that year.

Inglewood's former Library Director John W. Perkins was indeed a hell of a guy who amassed an amazing collection, AND wrote or commissioned many books on library service and administration (take a look at them on Worldcat). I was able to get most of these books through interlibrary loan and found them interesting and forward thinking -- they even published Library of Congress Classification Adapted for Children's Library Materials! Another fascinating read associated with the Inglewood Library was a report documenting their decision to break free of the Los Angeles County Library system and become a municipal library. Perkins was hired on following the split and did a remarkable job of building a research library in Inglewood.

Sadly the collection has undergone heavy weeding within the past year, so get down there and check it out NOW!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Los Angeles Library History - Happy 100th birthday to the Vermont Square branch of the Los Angeles Public Library

Check out this beautiful view of the children's room from the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

According to the Hand Book of the Branch Libraries, Los Angeles Public Library (1928), the Vermont Square branch celebrates it's 100th birthday today. It was the first LAPL library built using Carnegie funds and flung open its doors on March 1st, 1913 with a beginning collection of at least 2000 books. The building, landscaping, and equipment for the 8000 sq ft branch cost $38,466 (a little over $880,000 today). The Hand Book also adds that the Assembly Room "is equipped to show stereopticon views and motion pictures."

Read the history of the branch here.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Los Angeles Library History: Building library service to the San Fernando Valley

The city of Los Angeles began annexing the San Fernando Valley in 1915. There were three Los Angeles Co. Free Libraries (present-day County of Los Angeles Public Library) which became city/LAPL branches post-annexation. They remained in rented spaces until standalone branches could be built. The Owensmouth (present-day Canoga Park) and Van Nuys branches opened in 1927, followed by the Lankershim/Sidney Lanier branch (now North Hollywood Regional) which opened in 1929.

Prompted by community requests, delivery stations soon began springing up in the Valley. Stations carried between one hundred and one thousand books for circulation, and were meant to extend borrowing service to those that could not easily reach a branch or the Central Library. Only open a few hours during the week, stations were set up in stores, fire stations, nursing homes, churches, summer camps, clubs, etc. (The stationery store below housed the Reseda station at one time). In most cases they were staffed by paid or unpaid volunteers that did not have library training. Use patterns were monitored and some lesser-used stations were discontinued while others flourished and provided a base for later branches.

In 1948, when their current space needed to be vacated, the Reseda Woman's Club and the Reseda Chamber of Commerce began looking for a new space to rent for the Reseda Station. They were allotted just $25 a month for rent, and it was noted that Los Angeles Public Library Assistant City Librarian Roberta Bowler made the suggestion that the Library Commission was looking into the purchase of a mobile library (aka bookmobile) that could carry 2000 to 4000 books to various parts of the San Fernando Valley on a regular schedule.

The Los Angeles Public Library began bookmobiles service in 1949. Dubbed the Traveling Branch, it was a cost-effective way to expand library service to the rapidly growing San Fernando Valley.

In May 1949 Sherman Oaks received its first library service in the form of a 2-hour bookmobile stop in a vacant lot at Ventura and Vesper. The stop was such a success plans were soon made for a Sherman Oaks Station. Basilone Homes, a low-rent housing community for WWII vets created on the site of the present day Hansen Dam Golf Course, also received a bookmobile stop. Stops for Victory Center (approx. Lankershim and Victory), Encino and Studio City followed. Reseda Station's circulation had risen quickly at their location (18555 Sherman Way), enough to elevate it to full branch status with daily hours and additional staff and books.

Spring of 1950 saw the addition of a second 'Traveling Branch' with stops in Granada Hills, Panorama City, Tarzana, and Winnetka. A depot, not open to the public, was set up on Vanowen Avenue near Tujunga Avenue that would serve as a hub for the loading and unloading of the bookmobile. In October 1950 an Encino-Tarzana branch was created to replace two popular bookmobile stops.

The 1951 Los Angeles Public Library Annual Report indicates Stations will gradually be eliminated and replaced by bookmobile service.

The Sunland and Tujunga stations were closed and replaced with a joint Sunland-Tujunga branch library. By 1956 there are four Traveling Branches from which half-a-million books are circulated annual. One bookmobile, known as Little Toot, catered strictly to children and made stops to San Fernando Valley elementary schools during the school year.
City Librarian Harold L. Hamill notes a survey has been completed by the Library Department that indicates a need for 17 public library buildings to meet the growing needs of San Fernando Valley residents. One step forward is the move of the Reseda branch into a space at the new West Valley Municipal Building, with hopes that with funding secured, a regional branch could be built nearby. (The Reseda branch became the West Valley Regional Branch with the opening of its new building in 1960).

A $6,400,000 library bond passed in May 1957. This allowed for the creation of branches in Chatsworth, Granada Hills, Northridge, Panorama City, Studio City, Sylmar and Woodland Hills. Branches currently in rented quarters would get their own city-owned building, this included Encino-Tarzana, Pacoima, Sherman Oaks and Sun Valley. Canoga Park (previously Owensmouth) and Van Nuys would receive new buildings.

It couldn't come soon enough. For the 1958-59 fiscal year the nine San Fernando Valley libraries circulated more than 2.7 million books, almost one-fourth of the total LAPL circulation that year (which was 11 million across all 52 LAPL branches).

A MAP OF LOS ANGELES PUBLIC LIBRARY SERVICE TO THE SAN FERNANDO VALLEY THROUGH THE YEARS (branch locations are dark blue, known stations are turquoise, and known bookmobile stops are green) Click the link below the map to see dates associated with the locations-
View San Fernando Valley library service history in a larger map


Los Angeles Public Library. Annual Report, various years.

Los Angeles Public Library. Hand Book of the Branch Libraries. Los Angeles: LAPL, 1928.

Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

Los Angeles Times

Van Nuys News and Valley Green Sheet

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Los Angeles Library History: Happy 100th Birthday to the County of Los Angeles Public Library

Today is officially the 100th birthday of the County of Los Angeles Library system. They have been counting down the days to the Centennial Celebration, which will take place at all the branches on Saturday, September 8, by publishing a new library fact daily on their website. Check out their facts here, and don't forget to check out the countywide birthday parties on Saturday!

To read an interesting and personal history of the library's origin you should check out County Free Library Organizing in California 1909-1918 by Harriet G. Eddy. Ms Eddy was the County Library Organizer for the California State Library from 1909-1918.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Los Angeles Library History: Pershing Square book cart

While reading through the 1936-37 Annual Report from the Board of Library Commissioners of the Los Angeles Public Library I came across a section called 'Books Outdoors' that drove me to see if I could find an accompanying photo in the LAPL Photo Collection.

The 1936-37 Annual Report reported that in July 1936 an outdoor 'Reading Station' had been set up on the Central Library lawn, complete with a 'big sun umbrella, a book truck, table and benches.' Soon 1500 books and magazines a month were being borrowed from the Reading Station. A photo of this Reading Station is part of LAPL's recently digitized Herman J. Schultheis Collection.

Apparently the Park Commission was so impressed they asked the library to set up a reading corner in Pershing Square. WPA men were in charge of the corner when it opened in December 1936, its hours were Monday through Saturday 9:30am to 3pm. Herman Schultheis photographed the Pershing Square reading area also. Within ten months nearly 26,000 books and magazines had been borrowed from the two outdoor reading areas.

Would a reading corner be as popular in Pershing Square now?