Tuesday, June 29, 2010


When Chris and I moved to Los Angeles we quickly fell into a tradition we've had since childhood: A trip to the library. As children we were encouraged to learn something new everyday and as we grow older we still subscribe to that wise advice. At first, it was our local branch (Will & Ariel Durant, when it was still on Gardner), mostly because we had not explored the vast terrain that is Los Angeles. But as we tripped further through the city, and we realized that most communities had a branch all their own, each with their own unique character.
Those trips served as inspiration and have become the Los Angeles Library Tour.
As we rambled through the city in search of old books, we also enjoyed finding 'new to us' restaurants, drive ins, coffee shops, used book stores, record stores, etc. that had stood the test of time. In one weekend we ventured towards downtown and ate french dips from the inventors (Philippe's), visited the cavernous, incomparable Central Library, ate dessert in a rainforest (Clifton's Brookdale) and we were hooked.
For many years it was a birthday treat for each of us- 'what part of town and library branches do you want to hit this year?' but lately its become a monthly (and sometimes weekly) obsession. We typically start early on a Saturday and map a route that avoids freeways whenever possible, choosing to see the sights along surface streets and get a feel for the different areas of the city. We always grab a meal somewhere along the way, either by chance/love at first sight, or thanks to Yelp and stop where ever the mood strikes us. In our travels thus far we’ve been moved by the sense of community pride we’ve experienced in so many of the branches. Through the local history they are preserving, the great architecture that remains… With over 200 libraries in Southern California alone we never have to be bored.

When was the last you drove 50 miles to check out a library you’ve never been to just to see what it has on its shelves and what else did you find along the way?