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Los Angeles Central Library © Author Adventures

The Central Library of Los Angeles Public Library (630 W. Fifth Street, Los Angeles), where authors like Aldous Huxley and Ray Bradbury were regular visitors, is the third largest library in the United States, according to Tech Insider. Read about its vast services and upcoming events at lapl.org. The interior is historic an inspiring, a welcome addition to our California Author Adventures Trail.

The History

Over the past century, Central Library has been the center for literary and historical visual arts in Los Angeles.

Susan Orlean’s The Library Book (2018) is the definitive book about the colorful history of this landmark building in downtown Los Angeles, including its leadership and key librarians through the years. The book’s focal point is the massive fire of 1986. It also covers the whole history of Los Angeles Public Library up to 2018 in an engaging narrative style.

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Engraving at Central Library © Author Adventures

Established in 1925, Los Angeles Public Library grew to add more than 70 branches.

The 1986 fire required an evacuation of 400 people (read more at lapl.org/collections-resources/blogs/central-library/april-29-marks-30th-anniversary-1986-fire.) Losses were staggering and the community throughout Los Angeles worked together to bring it back to glory. Once restored, Hollywood celebrities connected with the promotion of reading were featured at the re-opening event, such as the multiple Emmy-winning LeVar Burton, author, host and executive producer of Reading Rainbow.

Central Library was a major destination for writing and research for many authors, especially Ray Bradbury and Aldous Huxley. Ray Bradbury’s home was demolished in 2015. Read more at latimes.com/books. Aldous Huxley’s house is not open to the public but readers can enjoy learning about it through this article in the latimes.com.

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LeVar Burton, photo courtesy of the Literacy Network of Greater L.A.

Central Library continues to be a popular attraction in downtown Los Angeles today. If you are traveling through and have limited time, be sure to visit the Children’s section where vintage murals will inform and delight. If you plan to be in the area longer, check its calendar of events. Countless authors and other publishing luminaries have been featured as speakers at Central Library events that are open to the public.

Of recent note is that Central Library has become a resource for maps of book settings set in Los Angeles, as, indeed, Los Angeles has long been a choice location to stir the imagination of its emerging writers. A great example is the Raymond Chandler map at lamag.com.

Getting There

When driving there, bear in mind that Fifth Street moves swiftly. Take advantage of the library parking made available at the side of the building.

Watch our video of this landmark, and discover more literary landmarks through our Author Adventures YouTube channel: Author Adventures on YouTube.

The Central Library is the fifth stop on our Southern California Trail!

Patricia Smart