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My Library Story

Thank you, Library Champion.  Your stories, and your love for your Library, make life brighter.

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Paul Pinion:  the journey to art educator

"In the mid 1970's my Grandfather and I would ride our bikes along the path throughout our neighborhood and towards the Lloyd Taber-Marina del Rey Library in Marina del Rey where our family friend Joan Horne was the librarian at the time.

As a kid, I would immediately pick a book about traveling, sailing, or any type of adventure I could imagine and then sit by the window to dream of the boats. Lloyd Taber also offered art classes and magic shows which I happily attended with great enthusiasm.

I decided to begin my artist's journey in 2018 after losing the vision in my right eye and teaching myself to paint, which eventually led to the opportunity to teach a series of art classes throughout the Clark County Library District in Las Vegas beginning in March of 2022. A new series of art classes continues today with the "Painting the Cosmos Space Exploration Summer Challenge."

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Image: M. Almeida/LA County Library

"I became an artist and art teacher simply due to the support, encouragement, and positive experiences that I found at the Lloyd Taber-Marina del Rey Library, the amazing staff and the wealth of information available to the members of the community that can be brought together with art and reading."

Janet B on on how the bookmark contest fueled her artistic journey

"I’m a stylist at a salon in West Hollywood. I’ve been cutting Jill’s hair for years. She’s a librarian for LA County Library in the Santa Clarita area, and she often shares stories about her work.

One day it dawned on me that she might enjoy the fact that I had won the Library bookmark contest as a tween – in 1982.

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"When I was a child winning that contest, it meant the world to me. I was able to take my friends to a movie that had just come out, Heidi’s SongIt may have been 10 of us that went, but it felt like we filled the whole theater.

I had so much joy that my heart could bring all of us together for this joyous occasion.  This gave me the confidence to enter other contests.

Every contest that I entered from there on out, I won first place.

After high school, I got my first job and my life started happening.  I started with my career and it wasn’t until 2018 that my passion for art and drawing reignited again.

I painted a photo of my friend Enrico’s dog, and I have been painting ever since with constant commissions.  I was so inspired by all my commissions that I went to Rome to study oil painting for two years in a row with masters Natalia Fabia and Sean Cheetham at the Rome Workshops.

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"Since then, my understanding and appreciation has grown.  I consider myself a much more serious artist, doing and following my true and original passion.  Only through this, I feel as if my life has been set on fire.  As Rumi says, I have also found those who fan my flames.”


Through reading, study and sheer determination, I find myself in a very happy place.  After talking with Jill, I was inspired to re-create the painting I made as a 10 year old. I found joy and wonderment in my new creation.

Thank you LA County Library for being the original “fan to my flame."

Jeff L on the treasures of the library...bring your bag

"Enlightenment, intellectual insights, spiritual uplift, exercise, ocean breezes. No parking fees, no carbon footprint.

How? Where? In my case, by being lucky enough to walk to my local branch of the LA County Library.

What a vital resource our libraries are. How many millions have they nourished? It’s hard to see how a democratic republic can function without them.

I make it a point to pop in at least once a week. There’s always something intriguing in the new arrivals section, and who knows what gems you’ll come across while wandering in the stacks. I rarely leave empty handed.

Hint: take a bag so you can tote home your literary loot."

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Image:  Library of Congress

In a fun coincidence, a librarian suggested I might enjoy a story about Paul Revere's ride, made famous in a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I delighted in the read, Why Longfellow Lied, a book by author and retired elementary school history teacher Jeff Lantos.

Imagine my surprise when, completely unrelated, the Foundation got a nice note from Library Champion Jeff L. (one and the same) and he agreed to shared a My Library Story. Read it here
(above), and check out his "expose" about that famous revolutionary ride -- available as an ebook at your Library.

Kelly and Rex: Gratitude for gems at the South Whittier Library

"We recently made a donation to the LA County Library Foundation, and you had sent us a note and asked for our reason for donating.

There are many reasons we chose to donate including online classes for adults, the Unincorporated Whittier Heritage Photo Project, and access to Libby/Hoopla/Kanopy.

Our primary reason why is because we would like to show our thanks and support to Ms. Elizabeth, the Children's Librarian at the South Whittier Library.

She leads the Smarty Pants Storytime, Preschool Art Class, and all of the other activities for children. Our three year old loves to go to storytime and art class with Ms. Elizabeth.

Not only does Ms. Elizabeth encourage reading wonderful books, but she is also very welcoming and she really builds relationships with all of the families who come to the library.

We appreciate Mr. Oscar who is very helpful and responsive. He leads an awesome staff at the South Whittier branch.


Thank you."

Tammy K: Our happy place


Images:  Tammy K.

"Watching my nephew discover new stories at our local library makes my heart happy. Going to the library has been part of our routine since he was very little, and now at three and half years old he asks to visit any time we have an afternoon together.

Our library - in Lomita, CA - is less than a mile from our home and now has become a space where we not only got to find our favorite characters, but the local Muslim community gathers weekly in the community room for the traditional Friday afternoon prayer. Having a Friday group prayer is a long-standing tradition for Muslim communities. For my nephew, visiting the library after is a lovely bonus!

Making sure my nephew builds healthy and positive habits at a young age is something we value as a family. As he grows older, we love that the memory and habit of attending the weekly Friday prayer will also include a family trip to our Lomita library.

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Image:  David Mark/Pixabay

Judy S. on how reading (and writing) can take you places

"Right now, I’m reading three different books - Pastoral Song: A Farmer's Journey (James Rebanks) is about the transition from family farms to today’s very large commercial farms.

I grew up on a family farm (160 acres), and my cousins, and my brothers and sister and I all moved off the farm to go to college. We never returned. With modern machinery, farms where I grew up are now 6,000 to 8,000 or more acres. So, I have a lot in common with James Rebanks.

The second book I’m reading is Walking Gentry Home (Alora Young). It’s a book of poetry about the history of the author's enslaved ancestors. The third book is These Precious Days, a book of essays by Ann Patchett.

"Before I entered high school in Pawnee, a small town in rural Illinois, the old building with wooden floors and staircases burned to the ground.

As a consequence, we had high school classes in local churches’ community rooms. We had no library, of course, but one of our teachers drove 3 or 4 of us at a time to the Illinois State Library in Springfield (about 14 miles away).

We could check out three or four books at a time. I felt so fortunate to have access to this library.

Our town also had a small library, and the volunteer librarian was a neighbor of ours. When I was in second grade, she told me about a book series, the Bobbsey Twins, and said she thought I would like these books. I read them all.

My parents were readers, but consumed magazines more than books. My mother was a sixth grade teacher, and she had a set of books she used at home. We also had an Encyclopedia Britannica set that my mother bought for us (I had two older brothers and a younger sister). I read all of them from cover to cover.

I was also a good student, and after two years at Illinois State Normal, I transferred to the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. They had then, and still have, one of the largest libraries in the country. I was in awe, and remember walking up and down the rows of books, pulling some off the shelves, and sitting down on the floor to look at/read them.

When I was in graduate school there (got a Ph.D in the College of Education and the Graduate School), I was in awe of the journals back in the “stacks.” The stacks were staffed by a person who allowed graduate students to enter if they had applied for a small desk/study cubby.

I could find almost everything I needed to complete papers and my dissertation. If they didn’t have something, they ordered it through inter-library loan.

My major advisor at Illinois, Dr. Bernard Spodek, read and commented about his graduate students’ papers, and I remember rewriting some six or seven times. This was in the days before computers, so rewriting meant retyping on a typewriter.

He also urged me and several of my doctoral student colleagues to write a book about strategies for teaching the Language Arts in the early elementary grades. He coached us all the way, and introduced us to his editor at Allyn & Bacon.

This experience gave me confidence that I could write, and wrote quite a few books during my academic career at Boston University and since retiring. My latest, by Harvard University Press, is What Are Preschoolers Thinking? Insights from Their Misunderstandings.

Whenever I move to a new place, I look for the local library.

Thanks for the opportunity to share my library story."


Image: Gaili S.

From I am Gaili Schoen, 61-year-old joyfully voracious reader living in southern California. At any given time I am listening to an audio book while hiking, reading my Kindle in bed, and enjoying a hard cover in a Cafe with a cuppa matcha latte. I swoon in bookstores and libraries, and secretly collect bookish accessories - enamel pins, book bags and bookish photos. There are so many great books out there (and some not so great ones), but as I attempt to age gracefully I am most interested in reading stories about mature adults. I post reviews of new and previously published contemporary fiction, as well as some exceptional non-fiction titles that I think might interest you.

Editor's note: Gaili's book trailers are also on TikTok. Check them out and tell a friend.

Gaili S. on finding books by and for adults over 50

"I wanted to tell you my story. I have always loved visiting the Julian Dixon Culver City Library, and was able to get there by bicycle due to its proximity to the bike path (and mine).

When Covid hit, I switched to a heavy reliance on Overdrive to read e-books and to listen to audiobooks, as I am a passionate reader, and needed the calm and enjoyment of reading more than ever during lockdown.

I approached a couple of neighbors about buddy reading books that feature characters over 50, and though that petered out due to their busy schedules and my enthusiastic reading pace, I decided to focus my energy on creating a book blog in which I would review books by and about adults over 50.

I was not able to find a source or database of books for mature adults - including at AARP, book blogs, and podcasts, or sending inquiries to publishers' reps.

No one was doing it, so I started I scour many sources, the NY Times and LA Times Reviews of books, Book Riot, Kirkus, numerous publishers, and many blogs to sift through and find the gem novels featuring older adult characters.

As I have a history of composing music for film, lately I have been creating "trailers" to include with my book reviews. It's so fun, though a bit time consuming, composing a musical piece and picture to match the emotional characteristics of a book.

I give monthly to the LA County Library Foundation because I read SO MANY books via Overdrive (will have to switch to Libby soon, I know!) and wanted to spend what it would cost for a monthly Audible or account.


Really, I should be paying more, as I read 4-7 books per month, not the 1 that those services provide.

Older adults really love to read books that mirror their experiences, and I am happy to provide that service! I wish it could be my full time job, but for now it's a very fulfilling hobby."

Library Director Skye Patrick wants to hear from you: Community Feedback ("Visioning") Sessions


Image: LA County Library

"When I was appointed the Director of LA County Library in 2016, I wanted the Library’s focus to be on understanding our customers.


As someone new to Los Angeles County, it was both critical and personal that I made room to understand our Library users.


We held a series of Visioning Sessions, where the public was invited to share their thoughts with me.


This effort gave me a bird’s-eye view of the need across our customer base, but also the opportunity to bridge the gaps in services, helping to formulate the Library’s strategic goals for the next four years.


From 2017-2021, LA County Library was breaking down barriers to services and finding innovative solutions to address community challenges, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.


However, society changes through time and the needs of those we serve change along with it.


Most recently, the pandemic changed the way many of us learn, work, and play but also highlighted the digital divide in LA County and brought greater awareness to disparities in access.


The pandemic also provided an opportunity to step back and look at new and creative ways to continue serving our communities, while producing new service delivery models.


As we look to develop LA County Library’s strategic plan for the next five years, I want to ensure we make a conscious effort to design programs and services that continue to meet your unique and diverse needs.


The Library will again be hosting a series of Visioning Sessions, which will take place virtually on Zoom throughout the month of September and October.


Attendees will have an opportunity to provide feedback and recommendations, and I look forward to hearing from you!


Together, we can envision a better future for LA County communities."

Former Library Director Linda Crismond on Starting the Library Foundation

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Image: Linda Crismond 

County Librarian Linda F. Crismond directed LA County Library from 1981-1989. She established LA County Library Foundation in 1982. With you, the Library Foundation is 40 years strong this year!

"The Los Angeles County Public Library in the 1980's was undergoing a period of strong growth fueled by increased funding to support collection development, expanded staff training, and enhanced local programs.


Every library was reaching record attendance numbers. There was a strong connection with the local communities through a network of over 50 Friends of the Library groups.


What seemed lacking was a system wide support group that would look at broader County Library needs.


The Los Angeles County Public Library Foundation [today known as LA County Library Foundation] was created to support common system programs, to increase the visibility of the library in local media, and to reach out to state and national organizations that support local libraries.


Prominent leaders in business, media, and nonprofits were asked to be members of the Board. As the County Librarian, I was appointed as the first Chair of the Board.


As a testament to the viability of the organization, it is still going strong after 40 years.


Being the director of the Library was a very rewarding time for me and was my favorite job over all of my library career. What made it so great was the commitment of the staff and the strong team spirit to provide the best service possible.


I received a surprise call last week from a former staff member. She and her friend were both community librarians in the 1980’s. She wanted to thank me for the training and leadership skills they received and attributed them as the main factor in both becoming library directors.


I wish the Foundation continued success on its 40th birthday!"

Roy M on Miss Curry, children's librarian

"My Library story doesn't have anything to do with the County libraries here, but I grew up in a small town in southern Washington – population 3,000 – and everyone worked in the local paper mill.

Despite the small size of the town, we had a great public library, with the second floor dedicated exclusively to children's books.

The children's librarian was Miss Curry, who'd been a missionary in India for many years before becoming a librarian – a fact that always makes me smile when I think of it – and as I came up the stairs, she'd greet me by name and offer suggestions for new books to explore.

Every summer we'd have the summer reading program, with little construction paper rocket ships with our names on them that you got to move up one level every time you completed a book.

Miss Curry moved me along the path to becoming a lifetime reader, and I made it a priority to give my sons that same experience.

Good memories."

Alan Kumamoto celebrates and remembers: Masao W. Satow Library & its namesake

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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."

Lesly M. & family, back to the Library


Image: Lesly M.

"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.


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."

Audrey, on celebrating her mom

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Image: Audrey A

"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."

Steve M. on the Library as lifeline

"You asked me why I donated to the LA County Library and that is one of the easiest, 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."

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