Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Los Angeles Library Tour - Fontana Lewis Library & Technology Center

Ok, not technically Los Angeles, but its not too far down the road. As we often do when we're out driving around, we made a turn when we saw a sign that said 'Library' with an arrow pointing towards parts unknown.
We weren't expecting to find the huge 'bright and shiny' Lewis Library & Technology Center. According to a plaque out front the library was dedicated April 19, 2008, with 'funding in the amount of $14,900,000 from the California Reading and Literacy Improvement and Public Library Construction and Renovation Act of 2000'. Overall the library is light, airy, and spacious. The teen section looks like a cross between a Matchbox slick track and an amusement park ride, and was being well-used on the day we visited. There's a coffee bar attached to the library and a nice Friends of the Library bookstore (word of warning- they only sell FOTL books to library cardholders).
Our favorite part of the library was definitely the Fontana Historical Society room on the second floor. Open whenever volunteers are available (call the library before you visit 909-574-4500), we enjoyed a leisurely hour learning about Fontana's Woman's Club (and seeing a photo of the men who were members), the Kaiser plant, and the Fontana Speedway. We also got directions to nearby historical buildings and a couple good places to eat. We'll definitely be back to visit.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Los Angeles Library History: Library Bond of June 1923

Reading through a program for Los Angeles Music Week May 19-26, 1923, I was surprised to find an ad to 'Protect Your Library Site Vote Yes on Library Bonds June 5th, Proposition No. 2'. The ad featured a ditty:

It's up to you to see it through,
Ye voters, one and all.
Don't let our Library fine and new
Be hid by buildings tall.
Then vote for bonds the plot to buy,
The plot that hides our view;
This be our constant battle-cry,
"It's up to you! It's up to YOU!"

I was not a fan of the ditty but I did wonder what the story was, so I did some searching on the Los Angeles Times via LAPL.

By May 1923, the site of the State Normal School on 'Normal Hill' had been acquired and cleared, ready to commence building the Central Library. The Flower Street frontage needed to be purchased still (hence Proposition No. 2), because it was 'covered with unsightly shacks' according to the May 20, 1923 edition of the Los Angeles Times. The article went on to point out that the Flower Street frontage was necessary as the new library would be overshadowed on all other sides - the Bible Institute on the south side, by a hill on the north side and the Biltmore Hotel on the east side.

The Library Bond had many supporters including the Los Angeles Stock Exchange, the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, City Planning Commission, and Sons of the Revolution. According to a May 27, 1923 Los Angeles Times article, three thousand Boy Scouts canvassed door to door to 'vote yes!', and small lunch wagons operating on the east side of the lot 'have printed library slogans on their menu cards.'

The June 6, 1923 edition of the Times lists:
YES - 10,880 votes
NO - 2,484 votes

Another interesting bond passed that day. Should a subway under Pershing Square be approved?
YES - 11,645
NO - 3,373