Surrounded by Stories, Surreal and Sublime


If you ever get a chance, stop in and visit the Southern California Library. Located on Vermont between Slauson and Gage, this building houses what may very well be the most amazing historical resources about LA available to the public.

Now, before a million of you start reminding me about the various libraries at UCLA, I should point out that in order to check materials out, you need to be either a student or a faculty member. While any schmo can show up and browse, you need an ID card to take stuff home. And while all of my visits to Central Library have been fabulous, I do find myself overwhelmed by the possibilities, and usually find myself staring at some odd bit of architecture. A visit to any of the satellite branches of the LAPL system usually deliver inadequate results, so I tend to visit my local branch only when I need some quick, general researching materials.

No, So Cal Library is different. Although it appears like a private library, it is assuredly quite open to the public. It stands out from the surrounding architecture, due mostly to the colorful murals on the front and side façades, honoring labor leaders and labor movements. The staff members are socially progressive, friendly, and (more importantly) knowledgeable.

The library specializes in LA’s historical artifacts: news clippings, local history books, and aging photographic collections. Their stacks showcase radical and progressive authors and subjects. This place is a wonderful resource for anyone studying or researching political history. Their archives can be browsed on request. I went there searching for news articles I could use for my lesson planning and found exactly what I was looking for. I will be using this library more often.

They schedule events like book signings, poetry readings, and lectures. There are extended summer hours, so check their website for hours.

2 thoughts on “Surrounded by Stories, Surreal and Sublime”

  1. Actually any schmo can check books out of the UCLA library, they just have to spend a lot of money on a card. For most people, it would be cheaper to buy the books, but if you’re doing serious research or working with out of print or academic texts, it can make sense.

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