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My Library Story

Thank you, Library Champion. Your stories make these days brighter.

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From RipeReads.net: 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 RipeReads.net. 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 Libro.fm 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

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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

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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

"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 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."

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