The Library Book

The Library Book

Book - 2018
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Reopens the unsolved mystery of the most catastrophic library fire in American history, the 1986 Los Angeles Public Library fire, while exploring the crucial role that libraries play in modern American culture.
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, 2018
Edition: First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition
ISBN: 9781476740188
1476740186
Branch Call Number: 027.07949 L8966o 2018
Characteristics: 317 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm

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From Library Staff

Adult Nonfiction. “In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean seeks to ‘tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.’ An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down. Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish jo... Read More »


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ba_library
Oct 19, 2018

Enjoyable book! Orlean starts with fond memories of library visits with her mother as a child. Then moves onto the arson/fire that basically destroyed the downtown Los Angeles public library in 1986 (over 20% of the collection was either destroyed or damaged by fire, smoke, ash and water). The underlying theme of the book is the hunt for the arsonist, but it also expands to cover the history of the Los Angeles public library and the people who have worked there or are currently working there. Showcases the public library; its collections and services. The author frequently reflects on the public library as a place of memory. Personal memory like her childhood visits with her mother, as well as collective memory for a city. Being Los Angeles there are numerous oddballs involved; the director who walked from Missouri to Los Angeles to start his job there. The suspected arsonist who aspired to be an actor, but seems to be a dedicated fabricator of tales, to the hardworking staff who suffer with outdated heating and cooling systems, budget restraints and library users. I am a librarian myself, but I have never worked in a public library. I had to ask myself, would other people enjoy reading this book if they were not librarians? It covers a broad spectrum from the arson investigation to major city library operations, but Orlean delivers the text in a very readable and interesting format that makes it a quick, enjoyable read.

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