Overdue …

This (no foolin’!) is a review that is very much worth the few minutes it takes to read it, in spite of its appearing on FB on April Fools Day.

“In Praise of Public Libraries”, by Sue Halpern, New York Review of Books (April 18, 2019 Issue).

The author reviews two books and a documentary film:

  • Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life, by Eric Klinenberg, Crown, 277 pp., $28.00
  • The Library Book, by Susan Orlean, Simon and Schuster, 319 pp., $28.00
  • Ex Libris, a film directed by Frederick Wiseman

There’s also no little irony in the fact that I’m reading and sharing it electronically, with no intention of purchasing the paper magazine — nor of trekking down to a library to read it.

The first half of the article is engaging and important, but the second half, a review of the recent book about the disastrous2,000-degree, 1986 fire that devastated the Los Angeles Central Public Library — an event I remember all too well. Yes, I spent many happy hours of my childhood and youth there, and many more at the Van Nuys Branch.

In many ways, the internet serves as a global, readily accessible reference library. But it’s encased in a wrapper made up of toxic and pornographic (in more ways than one) social media. And the social dimension of the near-universal library community has been replaced by a very poor substitute: the illusion of genuine communication under the guise of deafening (and deaf) twitter-fights.

Hmmm . . . the LA Public Library is a half hour from me, here at Nazareth House, on the Metro Gold Line. I have some spare time tomorrow – I am retired, after all. Perhaps I should turn off my laptop computer and make a Pilgrimage to my old haunt. I’ll report on it tomorrow, one way or the other.

Circa 1935

Update: April 2

Took me a while to post this here, but this is what wrote on Facebook:

As I promised yesterday, this afternoon I took the Expo line downtown to the Central Library. I didn’t really do very much except walk around and take some pictures – and enjoy the beauty of this marvelous place, the elegance of its design – both the old building and the newer Bradley wing. Nostalgiaville, big time! Lots of half-a-century-old memories. Disappointing was the relatively small number of people there. Seems well staffed and lots of security in evidence. I bought “The Library Book” reviewed in my yesterday’s post, autographed by the author commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Library’s reopening after the fire. Interesting that “way back when” Bishop Conaty and Bishop Manning were on the Board of Commissioners. I suspect that sort of thing wouldn’t happen nowadays.

I posted a baker’s dozen pictures I took that day, which you can also view on the FB post.

PS. I finished reading The Library Book yesterday, fittingly, while I was also following news updates on the sad Notre Dame de Paris fire. I highly recommend The Library Book, and you might enjoy browsing its reviews on Goodreads and elsewhere.

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