Sunday, August 22, 2010

Los Angeles Library Tour - Whittier Central Library

Wow. The Whittier Central Library is one of those places that you walk into and it is the library of my nostalgic dreams. Beautiful design inside and out. It truly is a destination library.

Designed by William H. Harrison, the library was opened in 1959 and still feels futuristic and functional. Inside it is inviting and open with a nice lounge area near the front, a huge children's section, large fiction section, lots of hard to find titles as well as new releases. Numerous internet stations and aisles of deep shelves. A large parking lot faces the rear entrance of the library but the front entrance on Washington Avenue is not to be missed.

The first time we visited, the audio/visual department was upstairs. It was almost like an independent record store! There were record albums decorating the information counter and they even had a painting of Janis Joplin on the back wall. When we stopped in on our latest visit, we found out that they had to close the top floor due to budget cuts. Hopefully they can reopen it soon. Two ways you can support the library - add to the donation box across from the circulation desk or participate in the silent auction of rare books in the lobby.

When I was a kid, I could spend hours browsing the library shelves and come away with a load of books on a variety of topics- anything I found remotely interesting. As I grew older and the 'leisure hours' of the day lessened due to school or work, I narrowed my reading topics and mainly hit just those particular sections of the library. The Whittier Central Library brought me back to that childhood way of browsing the aisles. I went up and down every aisle and found more books than I can possibly get through in the alloted time. Adult practicalities returned to me before I moseyed up to the circulation desk, I narrowed my selection for the day and wrote down the books I put back so they can be easily pulled on the next visit.

While we did make the Whittier Central Library our main destination, thats not to say thats all we did in Whittier. We made a stop by our favorite supplier of all things tiki, Oceanic Arts. We had delicious puffy picadillo tacos at Arturo's. Cruised Greenleaf toMonte's Camera. Found some cool thrift stores. Dropped some cash at Lovells Records and The Little Old Bookshop. It was a full day. Get to Whittier early. And often!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Who's Got the Book? Top 10 cookbooks of all time according to The Guardian

The Guardian website published a feature on the 50 best cookbooks of all time and the same curiosity that found me clicking on their list also pushed me to check the catalogs of the Los Angeles Public Library system (LAPL), the County of Los Angeles Public Library system (COLA), the Pasadena/Glendale libraries (PPL), Santa Monica Library system (SMPL) and the Whittier libraries (WPL) to see if they carried the UK website's 'Top Ten'. I've listed who had them available to check out. If they are only available as a reference copy I've marked them with an 'R' after the appropriate library.

10. Great Dishes of the World by Robert Carrier- LAPL; COLA
9. Sichuan Cookery by Fuchsia Dunlop- LAPL; COLA; SMPL; WPL; PPL
8. The Classic Italian Cookbook by Marcella Hazan- LAPL; COLA; PPL; WPL
7. Thai Food by David Thompson- LAPL; SMPL; PPL
6. English Food by Jane Grigson- LAPL (R)
5. Roast Chicken and Other Stories by Simon Hopkinson with Lindsey Bareham- LAPL; SMPL; PPL
4. Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater- LAPL; COLA
3. The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden- LAPL; COLA; SMPL; PPL; WPL
2. French Provincial Cooking by Elizabeth David- LAPL; PPL; WPL
1. The French Menu Cookbook by Richard Olney- LAPL; COLA

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Norwalk Regional Library

Curse you Los Angeles County Library! You tease me with the prospects of uncharted library terrain. But today, alas, I will not browse your aisles.

Let me explain:
We had just finished another amazing visit to the Whittier Public Library on Washington Avenue (it never ceases to amaze). Afterwards, on the trip back towards home, I found a comic book store we hadn't been to before, Comic Cult on Imperial Highway. Across the street was an amazing building. It looked gold and concrete from the distance. It seemed to exist
on an empty grass field. Was it an auditorium? It must be some sort of civic
building. It wasn't apartments.
We drove around to the front, it turned out to be The Norwalk Regional Library, a library we have not visited. And there were two amazing tile mosaics flanking the entrance.
The parking lot was kind of empty as we entered. Hmmm.... Are they a victim of budget cuts forced to close on a Saturday?
We walked up to the entrance, and to mixed emotions, we find out they are
closed due to a staff meeting. Whew! They will be open the next time we come back. And we can't wait to get back.
Once we were back at home base, we discovered that the Norwalk branch is in
the Los Angeles County System. Plus there are more mosaics inside.
While researching the library, we came across this great site about public art in Los Angeles County, spurring additional places to add to our long list of future trips.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Gotta go to Libros Shmibros!

Until we got a new computer system at work I was an avid reader of LA Observed, since then I've been rebuilding my 'daily read' links and recently powered through a whole lotta posts. Luckily this site was linked to on the day I was getting reconnected. I'd never read LA Eastside before (I've since added it to my list) but this post and especially it's subject are amazing! Similar to David Kipen's mission, I dream of the days when the LAPL had a cart in Pershing Square where passersby could idle away the hours reading a tome in the sun!