Sunday, February 20, 2011

Los Angeles Library Tour - LAPL Panorama City Branch

San Fernando Valley’s Panorama City began life in 1949 as a planned community, the brainchild of industrialist Henry J. Kaiser. The same Henry J. Kaiser behind Kaiser Shipyard, Kaiser Aluminum, Kaiser Steel and Kaiser Permanente. The Valley has grown by leaps and bounds since then and in the middle of this urban sprawl, on the corner of Roscoe and Lennox, is a great library.
Designed by Glendale architect Graham Latta, the original branch of the Panorama City Branch Library was 6,000 square feet and cost $146,805 (including construction and books). The brick building featured exposed steel trusses, a covered walkway/entryway, air-conditioning and a whopping 18-car parking lot. Click here for a photo of the original library's exterior from the LAPL's photo database. Opened to the public on May 25, 1959, it was the first library branch in an area that was previous serviced by bookmobile only. Other branches that also opened in 1959 include West Hollywood, El Sereno and Canoga Park. That year, the Los Angeles Public Library had its busiest circulation year in two decades. By 1964, the Panorama City Branch was the fourth busiest branch in LAPL’s (then) 61-branch system. (In order, the busiest branches were: West Valley, West Los Angeles, North Hollywood, Panorama City, Granada Hills, Westchester, Canoga Park, San Pedro, Van Nuys and Sherman Oaks).
By the mid-90s the library had outgrown its 6000 sq ft. A new 12,500 sq ft branch was built on the site of the ‘old library’ and opened in March 1999. There is a modest-sized selection of English and foreign language books, magazines, newspapers, and other media (including a large selection of Mexican pulp novels).
This branch had an amazing cookbook selection, including my ‘go to’ bread-baking cookbook that I would check out annually during the coldest months. Sadly, over the last several months, almost all of the cookbooks have been stolen. By moving them to a more visible location behind the reference desk, the thefts have slowed but the selection is incredibly sparse. There were less than two dozen cookbooks on the shelf on our most recent visit. It amazes me that people would steal something they can borrow for free. If you have any new or gently used cookbooks lying around that you aren’t currently using the Panorama City Library might be a perfect repository for your excess.

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