Saturday, October 24, 2015

Pasadena Central Library, West Wing

When it comes to Pasadena's Central Library, there might be no better tour guide than Dan McLaughlin, Librarian, Archivist and Pasadena historian. Lucky me, I asked him for a tour and he said yes. He even held my book, Act As If, when I took his picture. (Which I did not ask him to do but I wasn't going to turn him down.)

Dan is also an author of novels, plays and history books, two of which I purchased at Art Night. You may remember Pasadena Pursuit, the Pasadena Museum of History exhibit he curated across the hall from Ann Erdman's Mystery History.

I'm working on my new novel and it takes place in a library. It might even take place in Pasadena. For research and inspiration, I hoped to snoop around, above and behind things in Pasadena's Myron Hunt-designed, 1927-opened, 130,000 square foot Central Library.

Let's start with the library's west wing, which is way bigger than I imagined it could be.

When you enter the door west of the check-out desk where it says "Staff Only," a corridor takes you past a coffee room and several offices. Pretty soon you come upon this long room where books are being checked in and catalogued. I'm standing near the west end of the room. The windows face out onto the parking lot. Does the purple protect workers and books from the sun? The door at the far end opens onto the hallway that leads from the parking lot into the library.

We're on the second floor now, right above where I was standing when I took the previous shot. I hope the employees don't mind me showing their lounge. I think it's pretty nice. Very roomy and comfy, with a kitchen off to the left. The coffee room on the first floor is a lot smaller. This one's more like a full kitchen.

I never knew about this and it's hiding in plain view! The walkway leads from the lounge to the office pictured below. You can look north over the parking lot and to the mountains from here. Next time I'm at the library, I'm going to look up from the parking lot and see if I can spot it.

We're looking toward the mountains. More purple. I'm gonna go with sun protection.

Dan asked me to be careful about taking photos of library patrons. "We like people to feel safe here," he said, "we protect their privacy." I don't think you can recognize anyone in this photo of the Main Hall, taken from the second floor balcony looking east. The Hall's floor is cork, to reduce noise. The woodwork is quarter-sawn oak.

An interesting tale about the chandeliers: they're replicas of the ones Myron Hunt designed for the building. Other lights were installed in the 1960's "which obscured the beautiful ceilings," and no one knows what happened to the originals. But Hunt had designed the same ones for the Huntington Library, and these are copies of the Huntington's.

I took about a million photos and I'll post more. But I want to thank the library staff right now, and especially Dan McLaughlin. I had hoped to be inspired by my tour and I haven't stopped writing since.

Do you want an architectural tour of the Pasadena Central Library? Yes, you may have one.

16 comments:

TheChieftess said...

New libraries just don't compare to beautiful old libraries like this! Very stately...the ambiance commands that you be quiet!!!

Petrea Burchard said...

You took me to the Mammoth library and it was really nice! But I agree, the older ones have charm.

William Kendall said...

The large window in the second last shot particularly appeals to me! Beautiful space in there, Petrea.

Petrea Burchard said...

The big windows and loads of natural light are original. Myron Hunt is fondly remembered in Pasadena for good reason. His architectural stamp is on much of the city.

Ann Erdman said...

I attended many meetings in some of those "staff only" areas when I was the Pasadena PIO. Isn't it marvelous to go behind the scenes? And having Dan as a guide was an added bonus for you!

Scottford said...

We had a similar problem to solve with the lighting in 1994. Our beautiful Carnegie Observatories library, also a Myron Hunt building, had awful fluorescent lights in it, probably someone's idea of being modern in the 1960s. We also could not find the original lights, but were able to use photographs to come close to finding lights that came sort of close to the original designs.

Petrea Burchard said...

Ann, I had asked another librarian if I could do such a tour, and who would be the best person to do it. She said, "Any of us could give you the tour, but Dan's the best."

What was it about the '60s, Scottford? I guess everyone was trying to be all hip and rebellious. The Carnegie Observatories Library is such a beautiful one. I've been there a couple of times and of course I took pictures.
http://pasadenadailyphoto.blogspot.com/2015/09/carnegie-observatories-i.html

Scottford said...

The 60s. Yes. I forgot the mention, the library had an orange carpet, too, before we changed it in 1994. I reckon it complemented the orange doors we used to have in the 1969 addition to the campus.

altadenahiker said...

A great Pas destination.

Linda said...

I really like the lounge, it is very nice! Lovely photos, thank you so much for sharing.

Petrea Burchard said...

Orange was a popular '60s color, Scottford, don't you think? Anything bright was good. There's turquoise paint under the more staid layers in our 1924 house.

One of my faves, K.

Hi Linda! Thanks for visiting. I agree, the lounge looks like the place I'd be spending all my breaks. There's also a coffee shop on the patio for weather-friendly days.

llandudnopictures said...

Great tour, and you had the perfect guide to lead you... no wonder you were inspired!

Petrea Burchard said...

Truly!

Shell Sherree said...

I can see you being engrossed there for hours, Petrea !! And that's fascinating about the purple ~ I've never seen that done before - not that I tour libraries regularly. Actually, not that I've ever toured a library per se. {I have sat in them, though!} Love those light fittings !! Dan looks like a perfect host.

Petrea Burchard said...

I don't regularly tour libraries, either, and I'm only guessing about the purple. But it's likely that if I were wrong, someone more knowledgeable would have told me by now (which I appreciate).

Irina Rekhviashvili said...

Thank you for this so very interesting tour and information.