The Los Angeles Central Library is an impressive structure. In 1926 the original structure was designed by Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue in a combination ancient Egyptian and Mediterranean Revival style. In 1986, there was an arson fire that destroyed some 400,000 volumes, or 20% of the library’s holdings—as well as causing damage to the structure. Fortunately, the library was rebuilt and restored to much of its original splendor. It was only three years ago that I started going to the library, only after the Expo rail line from Santa Monica to downtown LA was constructed.
Thanks to the coronavirus, however, I cannot go inside the library. But I can put books on hold and make an appointment to pick them up at the 5th Street entrance. This I did, showing up at 11:15 am and calling inside with my cell phone to give my name and library account number, whereupon a librarian came out with the books I ordered in a blue bag, accompanied by a complimentary LA Public Library deck of cards.
Unfortunately, one of the books I had put on hold, Dora Bruder by Patrick Modiano, was in the original French. I put a hold on the French edition by mistake. The book’s name is the same in English and French, so it was an easy mistake to make.
The big problem with going downtown during the plague is twofold:
- Finding a place to eat
- Finding a rest room
Thanks to one of the library cops (yes, they have their own police force), I found out that I could go across the street to the City National Plaza (formerly the Atlantic Richfield Plaza), eat at one of the few restaurants still open on the ground floor (Lemonade is pretty good), and get a free token to use the public restroom.