Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Los Angeles Library Tour- Grant R. Brimhall Library (aka Thousand Oaks' main library)

Close your eyes and imagine the library Buck Rogers visits. Its likely that the Grant R. Brimhall Library in Thousand Oaks might be a close proximity. I would even describe my initial impression of the library as 'breathtaking.'

A quick zip around the fiction and non-fiction section revealed a nice selection and the library definitely has little touches that show they have the customer in mind.

Things like:

*A sorting shelf at the end of each row that indicates the newly returned books that are waiting to be reshelved but available to be checked out.

* Signage is plentiful and informative but not overwhelming.

* Fliers for events are strategically placed throughout the library (and again, not overwhelming).

* The placement of the public computer stations allows a greater amount of room between you and the neighboring computer.

* They have an honor system coffee cart and vending machines with bottled water.

* Their library foundation runs a gift shop.

* There are lots of spaces to sit and get lost in a book.

*It is quiet without being oppressively quiet.

Aside from the architecture, there are several things that make this library unique. They have a huge children's section (easily larger than any other Southern California library I've been to) which has a large fish tank at its entrance (similar to the Cerritos library), is well-maintained, and has an incredible selection of puppets that are available to check out. PUPPETS!

If at all possible plan your visit to coincide with the hours that the Special Collections room is open (currently Tuesday and Wednesday 1 to 5pm, and Thursday 5 to 8pm). Besides being a remarkable repository of local history, the Special Collections librarian, Jeannette Berard, can show you the library's piece de resistance- the American Radio Archive. Established in 1984 to preserve and document the history of radio. What started as a collection of radio history, it has grown to include all of broadcasting. They have sound recordings, scripts, dvds, and a whole lot of books on every aspect of broadcasting. Its very easy to while away a few hours at this library.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Los Angeles Library Tour - Inglewood Public Library + UPDATE

The day started off innocently enough, we were heading towards Inglewood to see Helen Lundeberg's WPA mural "The History of Transportation." I only had a vague idea of where it was located and we did our usual 'lets hit up anything that looks interesting along the way.' After the obligatory stop at Randy's donuts we headed east on Manchester and passed by a very cool intaglio piece snaking up the side of a building. We circled the block to get a closer view and discovered signs pointing us to a public library.

Highlights included:
The largest(circa 1972)poured-in-place intaglio sculpture known in the world by artist Tom Van Sant.

The ability to check out Criswell Predicts From Now To the Year 2000 (1968), in which the Amazing Criswell prognosticates computers ('education and newspapers which will be available through your TV') and same-sex marriage (though he did think it would happen in England by 1972). Its been a fun read.

They have artwork available for circulation!

Inglewood's former Library Director John W.Perkins (1962 to ?)must have been a hell of a guy. The collection developed by the library during his tenure is amazing. There are so many volumes here that I haven't seen in other systems. We'll be sure to check out their online catalog before our next visit, similar to LAPL's Central Branch they have more material in a depository downstairs, but are happy to retrieve the items.

The parking lot was metered and unfortunately we didn't have enough change in the car for more than an hour of browsing but the quick tour we made, and the new library card we acquired, ensures that we'll be back.

*** UPDATE ***

The above blog post has been sitting in my drafts file for a year (our original visit was May 24, 2013). Aside from the fact a year flies by in the blink of an eye, here is what else I learned within that year.

Inglewood's former Library Director John W. Perkins was indeed a hell of a guy who amassed an amazing collection, AND wrote or commissioned many books on library service and administration (take a look at them on Worldcat). I was able to get most of these books through interlibrary loan and found them interesting and forward thinking -- they even published Library of Congress Classification Adapted for Children's Library Materials! Another fascinating read associated with the Inglewood Library was a report documenting their decision to break free of the Los Angeles County Library system and become a municipal library. Perkins was hired on following the split and did a remarkable job of building a research library in Inglewood.

Sadly the collection has undergone heavy weeding within the past year, so get down there and check it out NOW!