The LA Central Library Flower Street Entrance
I have always depended on public libraries for much of my reading material. When I lived on the East Side of Cleveland, I went to the Cleveland Public Library branch on Lee Road, where a fellow Hungarian, Mr. Matyi, was the librarian. He also played the oboe for the Cleveland Philharmonic Orchestra.
They had a summer reading program in which I participated for so many years that they had to invent a participation certificate at my advanced level. (I wish I still had them.)
Even then, I also visited the main library on Superior Avenue in downtown Cleveland:
It was really quite beautiful, being funded by Andrew Carnegie’s vast fortune. (Can you imagine a modern billionaire doing something like that?)
When I came out West, I started by going to the main library in Santa Monica at the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and 6th Street:
Although it was fairly large with two stories full of books, I actually outgrew it. I found that they got rid of too many of their classical titles, replacing them with more recent … well … dreck.
I was elated with the Expo Line connecting Santa Monica to Downtown LA opened in May 2016. At once, I signed up for a senior pass which enabled me to go from the Bundy Station (about a mile south of I lived) to the 7th Street Metro Center, which was three blocks south of the Los Angeles Central Library—for a mere 50¢.
Even with the library building being closed due to the coronavirus, the LA Library has started a “Library to Go” program which enabled me to put a hold on the books I want to read. Within a few days, I get an e-mail saying they are holding them for me, and I just take the train downtown to pick them up.
Over the last week I have been busy reading these three books:
- Kōbō Abe’s Inter Ice Age 4, a 1958 sci-fi novel about global warming
- Ivan Klíma’s Waiting for the Darkness, Waiting for the Light, about Czechoslovakia’s rocky path from Communism to Capitalism
- Tim Butcher’s Blood River: A Journey to Africa’s Broken Heart, about an English writer who re-traces Henry M. Stanley’s journey along the length of the Congo River in the 1870s.