My Library Story
Thank you, Library Champion, for making these times brighter with your Library stories!
Image: LA County Library/Monica Almeida
On the morning of July 29, 2021, I accompanied my wife, Joanne, a member of the LA County Library Foundation Board of Directors, to the ribbon cutting and open house for the Masao W. Satow Library in Gardena, one of 86 libraries in the LA County Library system.
I was there to see how the renovated space looked and because I worked as the National Youth Director (1965-1970) when Mas was National Director of the Japanese American Citizens League, the largest and oldest Asian American Civil Rights organization in the country.
Mas and I had some things in common - youth programming and bowling.
Even though Mas was born in Northern California, he spent his schooling in Southern California (Polytechnic HS and UCLA).
He began his earlier career working as general secretary for the Japanese division of the YMCAs (I volunteered at the Y and later worked for the National Board of YMCAs) and he also worked with youth groups at the Japanese Union Church.
This early work with youth was our common bond and he frequently supported and encouraged the youth activities and services.
Our second connection: he was an accomplished bowler (I did some bowling, but not at his level).
Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell hosted the open house with the Library. The event featured outdoor activities for kids and a walk-through of the refurbished space.
Upgrades to the library, made possible with support from the 2nd Supervisorial District Capital Fund, include: new furniture, increased seating capacity, a dedicated teen area, two self-checkout machines, a new HVAC unit, new exterior paint and drought-tolerant landscaping.
Image: LA County Library
Ann B., reflections on the Library
I was the Los Angeles County Public Information Officer from January 1987 through September 1988. I placed numerous stories including this one from the Los Angeles Times, October 15, 1987 - it's fascinating to remember that the LACoPL CALL Center was the Google of its time.
I also placed a great deal of TV and radio stories about the Library. It was an amazing time. The LACoPL was "automating" - getting rid of the large spinning files with customer library card info.
It is amazing to me what we have witnessed in technological change in my lifetime that has transformed how we gather information. Still, even with our online data sources, remarkable indeed, libraries will ALWAYS play a part in our lives.
I remember the head of the Beverly Hills library eloquently declaring library as sanctuary - a place to read, to be, to envision, to feel safe.
I was able to get author Alex Haley to be the speaker at the April 1988 LACoPL Library Breakfast. And I suggested that we honor local Delta Sorority members for the February 1989 celebration at A C Bilbrew Library for Black History Month and have author Paula Giddings as the speaker. She'd just published In Search of Sisterhood about the Deltas.
Librarians are very special. My second major mentor after my mother was my 5th/6th grade public school librarian Ruth Hadlock, in San Francisco. She changed my life. I adored her and was able to reconnect in May of 1988. I visited her and called and stayed in touch until her passing this year. She was 90, and I will miss her deeply.
Librarians change lives. I am deeply grateful.
Brad B., a DIY care package using the Federal Depository Library
My DIY Care Package includes more than the entertainment that is available online. I must have information that is primary-sourced and contemporary as well as historical.
On the Library landing page, there is a tab way over to the right titled "RESOURCES." Under that tab, there is a menu column called "SERVICES." One of the items under that is "Federal Depository Library."
The U.S. government is the largest publisher in the world for over 150 years. The Government Printing Office archives all publications of the US Government, from how to build a solar roof heater to the text and supporting documents of the 1991 START Treaty.
These documents are crucial for the understanding of where we are, how we got there and what we need to do to achieve our goals for a "more perfect union."
I recently retired from Covina Valley Unified School District as an adult ed teacher.
I used the Repository all the time for a variety of subject classes ... particularly and uniquely for my ESL classes. Great primary source.
Now, I read mostly nonfiction (thanks, by the way thank you for access to documentary streaming library). I use Repository for researching background for my reading.
Thank you (and the folks at Norwalk) for making this stunning gift available.
Lesly M. & family, back to the Library
During the pandemic lockdown we really missed our local library and all the community programs it provided.
My kids would both ask "Can we go to the library when all the germs are gone?" It was simultaneously heartbreaking, yet reassuring that my kids hadn't lost the love of the library.
We made sure to check out digital books from our library's Overdrive collection to keep our bedtime routines as exciting as possible. My kids are now a big fan of the Scaredy Squirrel series of books thanks to this wonderful option.
But, I have to admit, nothing will be able to take the place of physical books for my family.
That's why we almost couldn't contain ourselves when we heard the good news that our local library, the La Crescenta Library, had reopened!
We strapped on our masks and went as soon as we could. They have protocols in place and hand sanitizing stations to make us feel comfortable and safe when making our selections.
The kids excitedly picked their own books and were extremely disappointed to hear, after 16 books, my husband and I could not carry anymore.
Some of the books they picked were new adventures to dive into while others were some of our favorite books to cuddle up with like Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney.
We will continue to make weekly trips to the library now that it has reopened. And we'll wait patiently in anticipation for the day the La Crescenta Library can bring back the community shows and activities.
For now, we are completely satisfied with being able to safely reunite with our favorite library staff members and being able to be amongst our beloved books.
Thank you to all those at LA County Library who have made this safe re-opening possible.
Jordan Y., my favorite book is....
I remember my mother taking me to the library when I was a kid and I would spend hours getting lost in the aisles of knowledge. I enjoyed pulling out books and discovering a world that went beyond my home. I enjoyed challenging myself and attempted to read books from a higher grade level.
I realize now how much of a blessing the LA County Libraries have been in my life and I encourage everyone to open a book and learn something new. It is rewarding to turn the last page of a book and to know that you accomplished a task that makes you a better, more educated person.
My local library is Carson Library. My favorite book is the next one I read since every book has a story that the author wanted to tell for a purpose; I enjoy seeing the world from another person's eyes.
Shelley K., with thanks to Library staff
I would like to express my gratitude and admiration to all of the Library staff.
Your hard work and diligence during these challenging times made it possible for the library patrons to have access to books, audio books and DVDs.
For many of us, these are essential to our daily enrichment of life.
The public couldn't do without the stupendous Library staff.
A big thanks to all of you!
Porsha C., on working and parenting small boys during COVID
As a mother of 2 small children ages 4 and 1, I am always looking for ways to keep them having fun, learning and engaged. Prior to COVID, that meant days filled with activities like visiting the beach, trips to the park or Saturdays visiting our local library.
When the COVID pandemic started, suddenly I was thrusted into working from home, providing full time care for my little ones, unfortunately telling them the beach and the park were closed and trying to still find ways they could have fun and learn.
I am so immensely grateful for LA County Library. My boys and I have participated in the virtual Story Time and the Baby Band Practice classes. These have been a wonderful gift for them to enjoy learning and dancing with friends virtually.
Thank you LA County Library for providing my little ones fun and engaging learning time!
Margaret B., COVID-19 survival
When the pandemic hit, I went a few months without going out. I had about 10 books in reserve.
I love my husband and family. But for my personal pleasure, I like reading, music, and exercise. I used my ear buds while on my treadmill at home. I missed my social life at the gym.
I was buying books at retail prices. The thrift stores were closed. The library was closed. I mailed books to my sister because she was recovering from COVID. And the loss of her husband from COVID.
When the Library opened to book pick-ups, you saved my life. I was excited and thankful.
I have taken many things for granted.
I realize that my life is a gift. I am grateful.
Sara W., on gratitude for this year
"2020 was an awful year, but the Library saved me.
The words in the books I read reminded me that I wasn’t the first human being to feel sadness, anger, loneliness, and fear all at the same time.
Those books found ways to inspire me, distract me, teach me empathy and provide me with hope during the darkness.
That hope gave me a connection to life and helped me find the strength that humanity will come out of this better than before.
I’m sure I’m not the only reader who feels this way. Thank you for all that you do!
A very grateful reader,
Steven M., on the Library as lifeline
"You asked me why I donated to the LA County Library and that is one of the easiest questions...like, ever!
I am a retired schoolteacher and love to read. In my retirement I travel the world and am a season ticket holder to theaters in LA and OC. On top of that I probably would attend a movie at least once a week. Then along came COVID 19 and all that is gone!
Thank heavens for me having the opportunity to check out any book or DVD in the entire LA County Library system. On any given day I probably have 3-4 books and DVDs checked out, along with half a dozen on request.
So when a friend asked me a while back how was I making it through the pandemic, I responded simply, 'I could not have done it without the LA County Library.'
And that’s when I reached for my checkbook. Thank you."
Miss Khaliah on reading non-stop, thankful for Sidewalk Service
I placed four books on hold and I eagerly await the joy of reading them. Since quarantine began, I have relied on my home library for sustenance. No small feat as I have upwards of 200 books.
Nonetheless, I love public libraries for the vastness of options. I've decided to continue tackling my home library and check out books from the library. Four at a time satisfies me. When I check out too many, I don't accomplish reading them all. Less is indeed more.
I have finished 101 books this year. (I record them in a reading log and Goodreads.) I read softcover and hardcover formats exclusively.
Ricki and her grandchildren at a performance of Frozen, pre-COVID days.
Ricki A. on passing the love of reading to her children, students and grandchildren
My library story goes back to when I was a child and loved going to the library in West Los Angeles on Robertson, south of Pico Blvd. I checked out books for free reading and for doing research for reports.
When I had my own children in the 80's, I always checked out numerous children's books for them and read to them daily. I lived in the valley at that time.
I was also an elementary school teacher for 31 years and my love of books carried over to my students. I continued using the public library for research and pleasure. Neighborhood librarians would visit our classrooms each year to instill a love of learning in our students.
Finally, I now have 9 grandchildren, but I recall the first time I took my three year old first grandson to the library on Ventura Blvd. in Tarzana. That branch is shaped like a boat and he enjoyed seeing it and looking out the front windows to look for school buses and fire trucks, his favorites.
Now, several of my grandchildren live in Agoura Hills and I took them to get their own library cards at the Agoura Hills Library off of Agoura Road.
I have an extensive home library that I share with my grandchildren and love to read to them when we have sleepovers. Thank you for all that you do.
Charles L., on the value of the public library
While we are all constrained by COVID-19, as is being said, “We’re all in this together.”
I remember a time when I was constrained for a long period of time and the only consistent thing I had to look forward to was L.A. County’s “Books by Mail” program. I am grateful BBM was able to fill a giant void in my life by sending me books, postage paid, on a regular basis.
Things are different now. Today, we can access all sorts of information via the internet. It wasn’t always like that. Though the internet was around, not everyone had access to it. It certainly wasn’t free. The service was nowhere near as fast as it is today and if someone happened to pick up the phone, the hours it took to download data, measured then in kilobytes, would be lost and you would have to start again. Not everyone owned a PC or laptop either. There were no such things as Smartphones.
Today, high-speed internet, or any internet connection, would be unattainable for many people, without the library’s help. Many things have changed very rapidly since the internet came about. For some, many things are the same. Today, more than ever, access to the internet is essential. You still need an internet capable device and an internet connection to get online. Some people don’t have either or maybe they have limited access.
In an age where applying for a job, applying for governments resources, or communicating with distant family and friends, are all in some way dependent on these devices and internet access, the only consistent source available, for some, is the public library. The library will go a step further by not only supplying the necessary resources, but will assist you in utilizing them and teach you to help yourself, if you so desire.
In addition to all that I have mentioned, the library also provides a quiet, and in most cases, private place to work or study, which is also important and not always attainable by everyone. Or, if you aren’t working or studying, the Library is a quiet place to sit and be alone.
In summary, things have changed rapidly, outpacing the capabilities and resources of many people. From what I can tell, that probably won’t change anytime in the near future. When it comes to providing important resources and services for anyone or everyone, the public library has been a consistent provider. I truly hope that doesn’t change, which is why I have pledged my support.
Lesly M., on parenting toddlers during COVID-19
"During these trying times of the Covid-19 lockdown, my husband and I are both trying to work from home while raising two toddlers. It’s been quite a challenge to attend to our conflicting responsibilities between being a parent and dedicated employee but the Library services have made it a little bit easier.
Before lockdown was announced, we had borrowed about 20 books. Thankfully, the announcement that fees were stalled and we could return our books upon the re-opening of the library has been a godsend.
We read to our children every day and our own book collection was not going to suffice. They needed access to Llama, Llama and to go on a new adventure with Olaf from Frozen. We need a window to the outside, especially in a time when being physically outside requires a face mask.
My 3 year old daughter has just learned how to read short 3-4 letter words. And I cannot express how invaluable it has been for her to be able to flip through our Library books and find words she can read in her favorite new stories.
Before I returned to the workforce, my kids attended the Smarty Pants storytime program. The Children’s Librarian used to hand out egg shakers and have the kids dance and shake to get them ready to learn.
To this day, my kids and I use those same egg shakers that she gave to us and we Shake Our Sillies Out before we do any “school activities.” I believe this genuinely helps put them in a learning mindset. We work on our letters, numbers, shapes, and colors. It really has helped bring a little order to a time of chaos and double duty parenting.
I have to make my lunch hours and breaks from my accounting job really count and I couldn’t do it without this learned skill.
Actually, let it be known that all the work done by the LA County Librarian workers is vital and of the utmost importance. You all are the gate keepers to literacy for our community. I know that even with a decent wage I could not afford to buy every single book I’ve borrowed from the library. -- Lesly M.
Audrey, on celebrating her mom
"Both donations are a Christmas gift for my mom, who was born and raised in East Los Angeles.
Like many children in East LA, she grew up poor with limited access to books and reading materials.
Despite her limited access to resources, she absolutely loved to learn (and is still to this day the most voracious reader I know)!
My mom treasured the Library deeply. When my brother and I were growing up in LA, she took us to our local library regularly, always making sure we had a good book in hand.
To our family, the library was a wonderland where we could learn, play, or go on adventures to far-away lands through books.
I have so many fond memories of the library's reading programs, after-school trips, storytelling events, and much more!
In short - LA libraries will always have a special place in my heart.
LA libraries inspired my love of learning and education, which eventually got me to where I am now (currently working toward a PhD at The University of British Columbia)!
Continuing to ensure communities across LA have access to these incredible services is a cause my family (and especially my mom) deeply believes in supporting.
I am so deeply thankful for all the work you do and hope my gift helps to inspire another generation of readers and lifelong learners like my family and me."
The vote is in...you love your ebooks and audio books...and for a bunch of reasons:
"Thanks to the LA County library having such a diverse collection, I'm usually able to indulge just about anything I find myself curious about.
As a bibliophile, over the years I found myself unable to physically move my extensive collection of physical books so the digital library and eZine options are are godsend...I hope that provides some insight into an "essential service" that continues to bring me joy (and sanity!) despite the disruptions we are facing today. Mahalo and stay safe. - Noriko W.
In recent weeks, we have started using the e-audio books on Overdrive for the first time. The service has been invaluable and enjoyable! My child has enough visual screen time for distance learning with teachers and related coursework, so we opted for in-home listening of the e-audio books on weekends....This week, I introduced him to Harry Potter. He is also a long time fan of the Gerenomio Stilton series and the narrator is excellent! On occasion, we have also borrowed the e-videos for family nights. Thank you again for sustaining our community. - Grace M.
During normal times, I would indulge in a weekly visit to the library to resupply with books, or just soak in the feeling of being among books while browsing for something interesting. Since the lockdown started, I have both read and listened to a slew of books. I especially appreciate having an audio book going while I take my daily walk. And if the weather is not too walking-inducive - rainy, or too hot - the prospect of the book is what guarantees to get me out. - Ioana M.
OverDrive is amazing! I have always preferred a hard copy book. Safer at home has brought an unexpected benefit - more time to read, and so many cozy eBook mysteries at my finger tips. I average one book a day. It keeps me calm in these unique times. - Hilary S. P.
I was very fortunate that I had 10 books being held for me the Friday before the stay at home orders went into place. I just recently started reading again and it's been really convenient to pickup books at Wiseburn. I'm actually looking forward to getting through as many of these as I can and filling my down time with some extra reading. My wife prefers audio books and she's been using the web service to find her favorites. Myself, my wife, and kids all enjoy the library. - Jeff M.
Currently, I am using the service to borrow audio books and download them on my phone (using OverDrive), and listen to them during my daily walks. Having the audio-books motivates me to take my daily walks since I look forward to continue on my "reading." - Rozita M.
...and a lot of you are cheering as the Library reopens.
I love my LA County library! Several years ago I started a quest to read every book on a list I found of the 100 Greatest Novels Ever. It has taken me years, and the books are not always easy to find! I struggled until I started requesting them through my local library in Duarte. What a gift! It is so easy and quick to request the next book on my list, and it is so fun to get the email that my book is waiting for me. It is like a little gift to see my book on the shelf with my name sticking out. - Meredith L.
Stay tuned...we'll keep posting your stories. We're overflowing with them.