The Library Book

The Library Book

Book - 2018
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"Susan Orlean reopens the unsolved mystery of the most catastrophic library fire in American history, and delivers a dazzling love letter to a beloved institution--our libraries"-- Provided by publisher
"Orlean chronicles the LAPL fire and its aftermath to showcase the larger, crucial role that libraries play in our lives; delves into the evolution of libraries across the country and around the world, from their humble beginnings as a metropolitan charitable initiative to their current status as a cornerstone of national identity; brings each department of the library to vivid life through on-the-ground reporting; studies arson attempts to burn a copy of a book herself; reflects on her own experiences in libraries; and reexamines the case of Harry Peak, the blond-haired actor long suspected of setting fire to the LAPL more than thirty years ago"-- Provided by publisher
Publisher: New York : Simon and Schuster, 2018
Edition: First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition
ISBN: 9781476740188
Characteristics: 317 pages : illustraions ; 25 cm


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Feb 19, 2019

Anyone who has worked in a library will find much with which to commiserate and celebrate in this story of the Los Angeles Public Library - the colourful characters who founded and nourished it, oversaw its move into the current grand central library, and managing the devastating loss of thousands of books and other valuable items in the 1986 fire. After 30 years in public libraries, I often found myself nodding in recognition at the dilemmas, changes, and successes over the library's history. Even if you have never worked in a library, however, you will find much to enjoy in this tale of a little California city that grew exponentially over the last century - and the central library it spawned. I was especially impressed with Orlean's thorough research that brought depth, texture and nuance to this history of the city and the library - and certainly captured well the essence of what it means to work in a North American public library.

OPL_EllyR Feb 15, 2019

This book lived up to its pre-publication attention and then some. I can't say enough about how well the author balanced historical research across centuries with present-day interviews and research and a smattering of personal anecdotes. For me, non-fiction usually drags at some point, but I was absolutely engaged throughout this entire read. I listened to the audiobook format, and enjoyed hearing Orleans narrate her own work.

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Feb 12, 2019

Readers who love books and libraries should check this book out (pun intended).

Feb 04, 2019

Really good, even if the author is kind of annoying.

Jan 28, 2019

I had no idea this fire happened until I read this book - it is a fascinating and interesting journey into the huge 1986 arson fire at the Los Angeles Public Library. If you like libraries, this is a must read.

DPL_Graham Jan 23, 2019

What happens when you set a book on fire? Susan Orlean tested it out in her California backyard. First it smokes, then flares, and then in a poof the book is gone enveloped in seconds leaving sooty ashes floating through the air.

On April 28th, 1986 the main branch of the Los Angeles Public Library caught fire and burned with a magical power, fueled by the written word and confined and narrow ceilings and shelving, for seven hours. The fire was finally extinguished after millions of gallons of water had been expended and holes had been knocked in the building. Who would set such a fire? Fingers seem to point to chronic liar but the other culprits are numerous.

Orlean uses the mystery of the fire to drive forward her non-fiction narrative. She deftly changes between the wild history of the LA Public Library, the history of the building itself, the inner details of the many and varied library departments, and the mystery of the fire and the search of a culprit. The drama in all of these areas is amazing. The newspaper headlines wild. The directions the Library Board decides to take system often protested and unreasonable. Yet, the library drives forward, ever expanding and finding new ways to serve the population of LA.

This is a love story and libraries and their mission are at the heart of this beautifully bound and written book.

Jan 21, 2019

Fascinating story of the LA Public Library fire of 1986 and put together in a way all readers will enjoy. It addresses the suspected arson, Harry Peak, and detailed account of the condition of the library at the time. Background of libraries and librarians over time was so interesting. Orlean's own motives for writing came from her childhood experience with a library. "It wasn't like going to the store with my mom, which guaranteed a tug-of-war between what I wanted and what my mother was willing to buy me; in the library I could have anything I wanted."
Having worked in a library brought me close to an experience that can be found nowhere else. 1949 UNESCO Public Library Manifesto: "The library is a prerequisite to let citizens make use of their right to information and freedom of speech. Free access to information is necessary in a democratic society, for open debate and creation of public opinion."

mazinwhistler Jan 13, 2019

An excellent read! A must for lovers of libraries...make you feels so appreciative for libraries and what they stand for and contribute to communities.

Jan 05, 2019

Just one of the best books I have read in quite a while...I wondered why I have never heard of this fire, being a supporter of libraries, then realized it was overshadowed by Chernobyl...

The writing is excellent, the details explored are amazing and the work done by the staff and the public to heal this tragedy is inspiring.

I know if you use this service to review your reading, you are a real fan of libraries, and I urge you to get on the waiting list and enjoy the read. It will be worth the wait.

I feel I did not say enough about the history and the stories of the librarians that founded the LA Library...from very competent people to colorful "characters" it all a vital aspect of the Library.

Jan 05, 2019

I really enjoyed reading about the LA Library fire I had no idea it had even happened. I also really appreciated how thorough the author was in describing the Los Angeles County Library system how it began to what it is today and the services that they offer. Overall, it was an excellent read.

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