Saturday, December 15, 2018

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

Susan Orlean's The Library Book is an amazing book in so many ways. It is indeed a library book in a way that all of the other books we offer here in the library are. It is also a book about a library, or rather a library system, for the City of Los Angeles. It covers history, personality profiles, library statistics and serves as a "whodunnit" trying to solve the mystery of the destructive Los Angeles library fire of 1986. Orlean covers all of these elements in a very informative and entertaining fashion.
As Los Angeles erupted out of nothingness in the early 1900s as Hollywood exploded on the scene, so the the Los Angeles Library. Orleans talks about the growth of the building  and details the lifestyles and eccentricities of its first library directors - a quite diverse cast of characters. Along with the history, the author works in the numbers detailing the current circulation, staff size, and community programs of today's LA library. Some of these are mind-blowing numbers, especially when you consider that the LA system is not even the largest in existence.
Another aspect of the book is Orlean's look into the arson fire that destroyed a large section inside the library's main branch in 1986. A primary suspect would emerge, but would not be convicted.Orlean interviews the suspect's family members as well as people within the fire department who worked on the case. It all makes for a fascinating side story.
The Library Book contains a lot of history, and, a lot of statistics. It also contains many entertaining personality profiles. It is definitely a book worth "checking out".

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