Saturday, October 1, 2011

Theme Day: Mystery Object

I was all ready to post another library and I remembered: today is City Daily Photo theme day! It's a good thing I remembered because--well, I don't know what would happen if I forgot, probably nothing, but it's too late now.

I know at least one person who can tell us where today's mystery object is, but can anyone tell us what it is? What I'd especially like to know, once I find out what it is, is how old it is. Whatever it is, I like to think it's an antique.

City Daily Photo is a worldwide family of blogs like mine, where people express their home cities through photos and commentary. We're now 1424 blogs strong and growing all the time. It's a good trend. We're a friendly bunch, and we need as much global friendliness as we can get. Our newest member is Ginnels Gates and Ghosts in York, Great Britain and it looks like a fine blog.

If you'd like to see what other CDP bloggers are doing with the theme, click here to view thumbnail photos for today's participants.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Hill Avenue Branch Library

Confession: although the Hill Avenue Branch of the Pasadena library is my favorite, I've never been inside. I've judged this book by its cover.

The building, designed by Marston, Van Pelt & Maybury, is the oldest in the Pasadena Public Library system. It opened May 6, 1925, thirteen days before construction began on the Central Library, which opened nearly two years later.

I don't know if Sylvanus Marston was a star architect at the time but he's the one from the partnership we remember most now. He designed the Fenyes Mansion and the Curtin House (and many other fine buildings I haven't taken pictures of yet).

From the website:
"Located directly across the street from Pasadena City College, Hill Avenue Branch library is home to the system's Asian language collection. The collection features Chinese books, newspapers and magazines, as well as a fiction and non-fiction collection for adults and children in Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese. The Hill Avenue Branch serves three elementary schools and eight preschools in the area. Hill Avenue Branch is also used by students and faculty from Pasadena City College and Caltech."

They've got a lot more going on that I don't have room for here, so I promise if you'll check out the website I'll actually go inside the library next time I'm over there nosing around with my camera.

I hope you're enjoying Banned Books Week. Maybe we'll visit one more branch library tomorrow, what do you say?

Update: Thanks go to Diana for sending me this gentle correction: [Sylvanus Marston] "didn't design the Fenyes Mansion...; that honor goes to Robert D. Farquhar. He did quite a few amazing buildings around Los Angeles, as well; nice survey of them here:"

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Lamanda Park Library

I stopped by to take pictures of the Lamanda Park branch library on a Friday. Lamanda Park is closed on Fridays and Sundays. In fact, many of the branches have reduced hours and it's a good idea to check the website before you go.

The empty parking lot at Lamanda had a forlorn look to it. Peering in the windows at the unused chairs and neatly shelved books made me sorry the collection is neglected two days a week. But if the world is having a recession (and I do believe it is) and if Pasadena is part of that world (and lordy, yes, I do believe we are), then let's do ourselves a favor and look at the positive side. Maybe we should consider ourselves fortunate that we get to keep our libraries. Perhaps cutting hours in some of the branches is how the city manages to keep them all open. (Except the Santa Catalina Branch, which is being remodeled.)

It's remarkable, when you think about it, that our taxes pay for this service and a library card gives you free access to the entire Pasadena library system, and that of Glendale as well. (You also have two more days to renew a lost library card for free. A good way to celebrate Banned Books Week.)

I notice each of the libraries has its own unique programs. For instance, there's a Lip Reading and Memory Enhancement class on Wednesdays at Lamanda Park. You won't find that at the other branches.

This from the website: "The first Lamanda Park Branch opened in 1922, in a small room in Emerson School. The second was at the present site, but was a relocated section of the old library from Raymond and Walnut. The current building, designed by Pulliam, Zimmerman and Matthews, Architects and Planners, was completed on October 14, 1967 and is 6,200 square feet. Branch staff can accommodate English, Spanish and American Sign Language speaking patrons."

I think that's pretty good, even if it's only five days a week.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Guest Author: Margo Sorenson and Aloha for Carol Ann

I had heard good things about Margo Sorenson's popular children's books ages ago. We scheduled her guest post long before I realized this was Banned Books Week! (I doubt you'll find her books on the banned list, but never say never.) Margo will be appearing at the Friends of the Duarte Library Festival of Authors October 8th on the Children/Young Adult panel at 10:30am. Please welcome today's guest author, Margo Sorenson.
As a kid growing up, I used to take the bus to the Pasadena Library, spending hours there, going over the books, making my choices, always keeping in mind I’d have to carry them all the way from the bus stop at the top of Lake up the hill to my house. Those were some hard decisions! There was a little delicatessen right by the bus stop, and I’d stop and buy one of those gigantic cookies with the chocolate drop in the center. That cookie lasted through at least a first chapter, but I’m not sure which I looked forward to more – the cookie or the chapter!

Those summer days filled with reading in the Pasadena area have influenced my writing, even though my most recent children’s book, ALOHA FOR CAROL ANN, takes place in Hawaii, as do others, since I lived on Oahu for ten years with my own family. Where you live when you’re young seeps into your cells and colors your perception of the world, and little bits of Pasadena, Arcadia, Glendale, San Marino, and Altadena still end up in my books.
DANGER CANYON actually takes place in Eaton Canyon and Henninger Flats, where I used to hike with my John Muir High School classmates. We were so foolish on one of those hikes that we almost didn’t make it back, and that scary, helpless feeling is one I tried to communicate in the story. When I do author school visits, the kids are in shock that, yes, I really was that stupid!

One of my unpublished YA* novels (and I have plenty of those!) takes place in Pasadena during the Beach Boy days. How well I remember telling my parents I was going to the Pasadena Library, and instead drove with my friends to Bob’s on Colorado Blvd. to check out the guys, “Little Deuce Coupe” blaring into the night air. I blush to think I earned my first ticket speeding through Bob’s alley.

When I was writing FUNNY MAN, another YA novel, I saw protagonist Derek as going to John Muir, even though I’d taught in other high schools myself. Of course, I won’t share the name of the teacher who ended up as his nemesis, Dowling the Dragon!
I’ve lived many places, Spain, Italy, Orange County, Hawaii, and Minnesota, but those junior high and high school experiences in the San Gabriel Valley are part and parcel of what I write for young readers. With any luck, they’ll have more common sense than I did during my own adventures!

*Young Adult


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

La Pintoresca Library

We're visiting Pasadena libraries for Banned Books Week. Pasadena has too many libraries to visit them all in one week (and we're all snooty-proud of that fact), but we'll do what we can.

This is the lovely La Pintoresca branch library at the corner of Washington and Fair Oaks. It's one of the busiest of our branch libraries.

Last night I went to a lecture at Caltech, given by professor John Sutherland of Caltech and University College London, about Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World"--which, perhaps not coincidentally, is on the list of banned or challenged classics we discussed the other day. That's a long way 'round to telling you the lecture was sponsored by the Friends of the Caltech Libraries. Did you know Caltech has six libraries? (Speaking of snooty-proud.)

Pasadena has 10 libraries (the Central Library and its nine branches). I'm puffing my chest out even further over six more at Caltech.

Now that I think of it, Pasadena City College has a beautiful library. And of course there's the Altadena Library. I wonder if there's a library at the Art Center College of Design? JPL might have one, too. Do the schools still have libraries? If they do, I'll be tripping over myself.

Update from Thal Armathura (what would we do without you, Thal?):
This is from Flowers of Marengo by Maggie Valentine, a fascinating article about northwest Pasadena and its many treasures:
The site of La Pintoresca (Painter) Hotel, the land was acquired by the City when the hotel burned down. Landscape architects Theodore Payne and Ralph Cornell laid out the park in 1925. Many of the trees and plantings date from the 1880's, when they were part of the grounds of the hotel. The spanish Revival library, designed by Cyril Benett and Fitch Haskell in 1930, complements the 1925 Electric Substation, also by Bennett and Haskell, at the northeast corner of the park. Clerestory windows in the central tower illuminate the reading room and circulation desk in the center of the building, which is laid out in a Greek cross plan. The library and park are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Zen Monday: #164

A confession about today's photo: it wasn't taken in Pasadena. I took it with my iPhone about two years ago at a book signing--for this book by Kevin McCollister--in Venice, California. I hope you'll forgive me this transgression as it's a fun shot for Banned Books Week.

Zen Monday is supposed to be the day you interpret the photo instead of me telling you what I think it's about, so I'll stop now.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week officially began yesterday, but we have all week to celebrate.

Because Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Library Association (among a host of others) and because Pasadena has ten libraries (counting the Central Library and nine branch libraries), this seems like the perfect week to visit some libraries here on the old blog.

It's also a good week to check out a banned book you've been meaning to read. The classics that have faced bans or challenges is a surprisingly varied reading list.