Wednesday, October 24, 2018

A New Book is Out About The LA Central Library... And the Book Sounds Amazing!

Wow, I came across a really good article on NPR's website titled, Mystery Of A Massive Library Fire Remains Unsolved After More Than 30 Years by Scott Simon. In the article, Scott Simon wrote the follow:
Susan Orlean's new book is like exploring the stacks of a library, where something unexpected and interesting can be discovered on every page. The Library Book tells the story of the 1986 fire that damaged or destroyed more than one million books in Los Angeles' Central Library.
"The fire burned for seven hours," Orlean says. "It reached temperatures of 2,500 degrees. ... A lot of firefighters who I interviewed said it was by far the most challenging, frightening fire that they've ever confronted in their careers."
Orlean uses the loss and lore of that fire to tell the living, everyday story of a great civic institution that is becoming, in a digital age, perhaps even more vital. She says the fire reminded her of the proverb that when a person dies, it's as if a library has burned to the ground.
"A host of memories and stories and anecdotes that we store in our minds disappears when someone dies," she says. "It struck me as being a wonderful way of seeing why libraries feel like these big, collective brains — because they have the memories and stories of a whole culture inside them."

In addition to destroying and damaging books, the fire also claimed irreplaceable artifacts. The library was home to manuals for every make and model of car starting with the Ford Model T, Orlean says, and to puppets from a long-gone puppet theater. People see libraries as repositories for "the flotsam and jetsam of thinking and storytelling," she says.
I never knew that there was a fire at the Central Library in Los Angeles until I discovered and read this article... To think the fire has remained unsolved for more than 30 years is amazing! I so want to read The Library Book by Susan Orlean now. This book is going on my reading wishlist.

Click on the very top link to listen to the audio interview of Susan Orlean discussing her new book on NPR.


  1. I want to read this too! Especially because it is in my city and about one of the libraries I love here.