As it turns out, I had 5 hours to kill while waiting for my Canadian visa approval. I decided to visit the LA Central Library … if nothing else it provides me with a place to sit, browse some books, plug-in my laptop and get some work done. I was in for a very pleasant surprise.
Working in the web industry, I have not physically visited a library since my school days (when you HAD to) or even thought of going to the library. As it turns out, the library is a great showcase of architecture, local art and has this tremendous sense of place and history that I didn’t know I missed. There is something sacred about walking into a place with so much history, symbolism and scale that simply cannot be compared to sitting in your underwear browsing wikipedia.
I took the guided tour (free daily) There was only 3 people taking part including myself. The docent was pleasant and genuinely loved the place. She walked us through the old part (restored after the fire) and the new extension and pointed out the details of the sculptures (Anne Preston, Therman Statom), ceilings, furniture, and decorative art. The great sense of place came from the murals that depicts the history of Los Angeles (illustrator Dean Cornwell ), the use of local tiles and the careful selection of local artists to provide art. The library was designed by Architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue in 1926 (Apparently he died before the building was finished from a heart attack …they said he worked himself to death) the new construction was also extremely well designed and executed. ( Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates)
More than just the actual architecture and art is seeing the way the library has adapted to this generation and the changes in how people research, read, work and use the library. We visited ‘Teenscape’ a place where teens literally ‘hang out’ Huge flatscreen where they can watch movies, play games (yes game consoles are provided) flip through mags, listen to music and of course browse the web. I took one look at those large bean bag chairs and wished I was (ahem) young enough… to stay there without attracting strange stares. Around the walls was a featured site (WikiHow)
The glass elevators are great (they are easy to miss) The walls are covered with old cards from the no archaic card catalogs. As you move from floor to floor, a glass gap shows the cards pertaining to the subject matter of the floor you are on (or passing)
The library also houses the second largest collection of genealogy records outside of Utah. Oh and if you are one of these people brimming with the next million (billion) dollar idea, you might want to drop off here to check out the Patent section.