Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Los Angeles Library Tour - Pasadena Central Library

This weekend we visited the Pasadena Central Library, the first of three stops we had planned for Saturday. The other two being the Scenic View Ahead: The Westways Cover Art Program, 1928-1981 exhibit at the Pasadena Museum of California Art and the China Modern: Designing Popular Culture 1910-1970 exhibit at the Pacific Asia Museum. Both are walking distance from the library!

In 1927, the firm of Myron Hunt and H.C. Chambers completed the Central Library which is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is grand and spectacular to look at, yet completely warm and functional inside. We parked in the large (free) lot and entered through the north entrance, which was once the service entrance. From here, the library seems like a crazy maze of display cases, shelves, books, and stairways. By contrast, the entrance through the front courtyard into the main hall (off Walnut Street), feels as though you’ve walked into a dark wood-paneled library from a hundred years ago. Maybe that’s why location scouts have frequently cast the Pasadena Central Library as Library #1. (My favorite being the ‘San Francisco’ library Goldie Hawn works at in “Foul Play”.) The Main Hall acts as the heart of the library. Not only does it contain the check out and reference desks, it leads you to the children’s wing, the business wing, the humanities wing, the centennial room (which includes a great Californiana collection), and the four levels of circulating book stacks. The staff was extremely helpful - I loved the addition of someone with a headset and a giant pin that said 'Ask Me' wandering the stacks.

I urge you to visit the library’s website. It gives a detailed description of the architecture and interior accents that make the library so unique. Next time we visit, a guided tour is in order!

The library went through a major restoration in the late 1980’s. Great care went into bringing the library into the computer age without destroying the look and feel. Computers were imbedded into walls and desks while maintaining the dark oak wainscoting.

The Metro Rail Gold Line has a stop at Memorial Park, just southwest of the library. Old town Pasadena is walking distance, as are a bunch of great restaurants, like Russell’s (‘famous since 1930’ -definitely try their hamburgers) and the ever popular breakfast destination Marstons.

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