The Library Book by Susan Orlean

The Library Book by Susan Orlean (2018) is a non-fiction tale about librarianship, centered around the 1986 fire in the Los Angeles Central Library. While Orlean investigates the fire and searches for a suspect, she also highlights the LA librarians and the entire profession. The reader grows to love these eccentric librarians, really caring about the Great Library War at the turn of the last century, a staff battle between an incumbent female employee and an incoming male one. Each librarian was unique and each improved the library. Orlean extensively researches her subject, detailing how the LA Library has tried to evolve with the times, including their response during the Great Depression, the war years and after the Internet. During those trying times, the library adapted with first aid courses, a defense information desk, later hours and more. Orlean’s book had me taking notes on ways libraries today can reconfigure their services in light of the coronavirus.

To get a feel for the LA Library then and now, enjoy these photos. Other books to read about libraries include the following fiction choices; Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson, The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami and The Bad Ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer, a non-fiction read.