with 'library' tag

who is irving l. sepkowitz?

if you have ever checked out a science fiction book from the los angeles public library, odds are good that there is a bookplate inside the cover with the name “irving l. sepkowitz.”

irv sepkowitz died in 1992, and was a television executive. he was involved in negotiating to keep larry hagman on dallas after the infamous “who shot j.r.?” cliffhanger.

he was also a prankster during his days at ucla. one of the pranks he was involved with was dropping 500 pounds of manure on the tommy trojan statue. a comedy screenplay award, the SEPPI, was named after him, and so is sepi’s, a submarine shop near the ucla campus.

charity, second quarter 2006

when i first started with mysql, i also started giving about 10% of my pre-tax earnings to charity. first it was three charities a month (local, national, and international) and then one charity a month (cycling between local, national, and international) and now i’m stepping back to quarterly donations — all local. i’m also a little behind schedule. between planning a wedding, moving, and everything else going on, it’s been too easy to put this off.

this first quarterly donation would have gone to the laura esguerra adams foundation, but it’s still not quite up-and-running. so i’ve given it to the library foundation of los angeles as a memorial to laura, directed towards the adult literacy program that she was involved with.

charity, march 2006

library foundation of los angeles it’s back to the library foundation of los angeles again, where i’m actually paying off part of a multi-year pledge.

i ♥ the library.

yesterday’s news is a brilliant blog from the minneapolis star-tribune which highlights old items from their archives. it’s a brilliant idea that every newspaper should adopt. especially the los angeles times.

it sounds like the star tribune doesn’t have its archive digitized, and the blog’s writer is working from microfilm. you can access the archives of the los angeles times going back to 1898 online (but only from the central library), and back to 1986 from anywhere.

i wonder what it would take to get the archives of some of defunct newspapers of los angeles online, like the los angeles herald-examiner and its predecessors. the library has it on microfilm. but you can’t really do a full-text search of microfilm. (what would be ideal is images of the pages and plain-text of each of the articles. pulling out clean text of articles is obviously a lot more work than just doing an optical-character recognition job on the page images to do a by-page full-text index.)

file under 301.412?

i ran across this little anecdote while digging up more information adelaide hasse, an assistant librarian in the los angeles public library’s early days (from a biography of adelaide hasse):

“Hasse also had contact with Melvil Dewey. While trying to seek support for publishing her grand series, Index of Economic Material in Documents of the States of the United States, correspondence indicates that Dewey arranged a meeting with Hasse at which he acted inappropriately. As it turns out, Hasse was one of several women toward whom Dewey’s behavior was less than appropriate.”

the actual circumstances are murky, because hasse had no interest in having them dealt with publicly.

the first los angeles librarians

working on a secret project, i ran across “at the pleasure of the board: women librarians and the los angeles public library, 1880–1905,” an excellent article about some of the early city librarians of the los angeles public library system.

children’s court, los angeles central library

king arthur
when the tom bradley wing was added to the los angeles central library, the entrance to what was the children’s department was moved to become the entrance to the mark taper auditorium, and the children’s court was was also relocated, including the sculptures by lee lawrie. it is generally closed to the public now, but i was able to get in while observing a tour and grabbed snapshots of all of the panel carvings and the lotus shaft fountain. the fountain isn’t actually functioning — i’m not even sure if it is hooked up to anything now.

spartan is a david mamet film starring val kilmer as a special ops officer trying to track down the daughter of a high-ranking government official. (it’s sort of implied it is the president.) it’s not at all flashy, but i think it also fails to spark. the dialogue is classic mamet, of course.

i stumbled in getting discs in the mail the last few days, so now my flow of movies to/from netflix is all screwed up, and i’ve got one movie to last through the weekend. (i only have one book from the library, too.)

no annoying yodeler

culture clash, an “infamous chicano performance group,” will be at the central library as part of the zócalo series on december 14. you might think i’m mentioning this early, but someone beat me to it a long time ago. you can actually make (free) reservations now.

the zócalo event earlier this week at the national center for the preservation of democracy in little tokyo, with los angeles times editor dean baquet and moderated by l.a. observed’s kevin roderick, didn’t really light any fires. but baquet did make it pretty clear that he was concerned about making sure the times reclaims more of a los angeles voice.

something i don’t think i’ve seen noted anywhere else is that the new blogs from the times, like gold derby and the movable buffet, are being hosted by typepad. and they’ve got rss feeds. now if only the actually news site did.

the old familiar sting

i got a blood donor card after the blood drive a couple of months ago, and it’s been staring at me from my desk reminding me that enough time has passed so i can donate again. so searching for a local blood drive, i ran across one at the los angeles public library on november 21. because i already have a reason to be there that day (to observe a children’s tour), that works out really well.

something i learned from my blood donor card is that my blood type is a positive. i remember that we tested our blood to figure out the type in a science class in junior high school, but i could have sworn that i had b positive blood.

in the “fiesta at a mission” mural by albert herter in the children’s department at the los angeles central library, there are plains indians among the crowd. when he was asked why this was, since they clearly weren’t native to the area and it seems a bit of a historical inaccuracy, herter replied that “they were visiting.”

(there is also a plains indian in the “americanization” mural in the rotunda, by cornwell — no story for why that is.)

the murals by herter were originally in the hope tunnel entrance to the library, but were moved to what was then the history reading room because of water seepage and poor lighting in the tunnel. as a result of the cleaning of the murals after the library fires in 1986, you can see clearly in at least one of the murals how they were expanded to fit the space in their new location.


central rotunda one of my favorite stories about the los angeles central library is how dean cornwell won the competition to do the murals in the rotunda. cornwell was so excited about the possibility of doing the murals, he entered the contest three times — once under his own name and twice under assumed names. when they selected the winners, the submission in his own name took first place, and the submissions under assumed names took second and third place.

doing the murals, which encompass 9000 square feet, took him five years.

here’s a brilliant contemporary review, even if i disagree with it, by thomas craven in american mercury magazine, december 1932: “the most conspicuous example of monumental profanation commissioned are the enlargements of coated paper magazine illustrations with which dean cornwell is swiftly and inexorably ruining the interior of one of the few tolerable buildings in los angeles.”

the first scrippsie philosopher

another library fun fact: hartley alexander burr, who was responsible for the iconography in the library’s design, was the founding chair of the philosophy department at scripps college in claremont. (the women’s college just south of harvey mudd college.)

when i saw that burr was responsible for the iconography, i mean that he worked with goodhue (the architect) and lee lawrie (the sculptor) to plan the library’s theme (“the light of learning”). he came up with the texts that are inscribed on the original building and incorporated into some of the sculptures. the three had first worked together on the state capitol in lincoln, nebraska. and goodhue and lawrie had worked together before on many projects, including the national academy of sciences building in washington, d.c.

here’s something i didn’t know about bertram grosvenor goodhue, the architect of the los angeles central library: he also designed a couple of font faces, cheltenham and merrymount.

i am a sucker for the zócalo and alôud events at the library and other downtown venues, and coming up on november 1 is dean baquet, newly named editor of the los angeles times, being interviewed by kevin roderick of laobserved.com at the new national center for the preservation of democracy in little tokyo.

strawberries i started the docent training at the central library today, and one big perk to it being on wednesday mornings is that afterwards i get to hit the farmers’ market on 5th street.

mmm, fresh roasted peanuts.

according to one of the people who works at the library, it will now be going on until the end of the year.

another booth was selling some sort of cinnamon-flavored roasted almonds that smelled amazing. i can still smell them. i’ll have to fight my way through the crowd to try them next time.

1% for the planet is an organization that is getting companies to donate 1% of their net sales to environmental causes. it was founded by yvon chouinard, the founder of patagonia. i may quibble with it only being 1%, and net instead of gross, but it is a start.

chouinard spoke at the library last night about his book, let my people go surfing: the education of a reluctant businessman. it sounds like a great book, and i’m on the hold list for it at the library now.

more charity mail

i think i forgot to check my mail on wednesday. so this may be two day’s worth:

the literary odyssey dinners sound kind of cool — it is a bunch of 16-40 person dinners with various authors in different sponsor’s homes. a few authors that caught me eye: michael eisner, gil garcetti, larry gelbart, thomas keller, and stan lee. each of the dinners has a different dress code. here’s the varieties:

  • business casual
  • cocktail attire
  • casual elegant
  • relaxed cocktail
  • business attire
  • rumble seat attire
  • informal attire
  • california evening casual
  • comfortably festive
  • casual
  • napa casual
  • black tie (this is for stan lee!)
  • coat and tie
  • festive attire
  • dressy casual
  • sports attire
  • jeans and jewels

i want to host one of these just so i can specify “pants optional.”

oh, and my regrowth charity t-shirt arrived, too.

busy night

tonight there is a discussion with william mcdonough about “the ‘cradle to cradle’ design protocol” at the central library, a party to celebrate lavoice.org’s 1000th post at cole’s, and it’s the monthly downtown art walk.

right now, i’ll count myself lucky if i make it to the talk at the library instead of being knocked out by allergy medication again.

more organic produce during lunch today, i managed to remember to head over to the central library to return some books and take some pictures of the farmers’ market.

all i bought was a bag of roasted peanuts (so tasty). next week i’ll have to bring a bag and load up on produce. it all looked awesome.

if the phone doesn’t ring, it’s me

this is something i’ve thought about writing about a few times, but it felt like i was running the risk of offending someone, or at least of making them uncomfortable that they had caused me to write it. c’est la vie.

file this under “things i would change about myself if i knew how” — i hate making phone calls. absolutely detest it. avoid it to the detriment of my own well-being. i still haven’t set up an appointment with accountant to get my 2004 taxes done because it involves calling to make that appointment.

it’s just one of the ways in which i wrestle with what you could call limited social energy. another is in spreading out my plans so i don’t totally short-circuit on a busy weekend. jonathan rauch’s article from the atlantic monthly, “caring for your introvert,” sort of explains the principle. (if you have a los angeles public library card, you can get the full article by doing a title search in the “magazines - general interest” databases.)

and of course, it is a lie to call it something i would change if i knew how — i do know how. like changing in any other way, it takes practice, patience, and hard work. so maybe it is something i’ll work on eventually, but for now i’m frying other fish. fixing my phone phobia can wait.

chandeliers in tom bradley wing i took the tour of the los angeles central library today, so i had some idea of what i would be getting myself into if i go through the docent training. i took pictures, of course, so there’s a 15-picture set of things on the tour and near the library. (like another fountain i somehow missed when i was photographing fountains.)

judging from how long it took for these pictures to upload, it’s going to take forever to upload the spring street photos i’m planning on taking tomorrow if that ends up being about the same number of pictures as the broadway set. sucks to wildly asymmetric internet connections.

it’s a good thing i checked the library website for the time of their tours — i had gotten myself confused, and thought their saturday tour was at 12:30pm. turns out that’s when the weekday tour is, and there’s actually two saturday tours at 11am and 2pm (and one on sunday at 2pm).

what i was originally looking into was whether tomorrow was one of the days they have the used book sale out in the courtyard, and it is indeed. that’s from 10am to noon.

docent work if you can get it

the los angeles central library is recruiting more docents for their library tours. there are orientation meetings on saturday, august 27, and wednesday, september 14. it requires six weeks of training.

i haven’t been on the library tour yet. i need to check it out. i have heard good things about it.

wonkette at the library

tomorrow, ana marie cox, editor of wonkette, will be the featured guest for the zócalo lecture series at the central library, with mickey kaus of kausfiles moderating. i’ll be the one who looks like he wishes there weren’t so many other people there.

charity, march 2005

keeping it local for another month, i’ve renewed (and upgraded) my membership in the library foundation of los angeles.

going to events at the central library is a pretty regular occurrence for me now. last week i went to both alôud events: talks by jordan fisher smith, a former park ranger whose book nature noir: a park ranger’s patrol in the sierra must be amazing, and by james b. stewart, author of disneywar, another book that sounds fascinating. i’ve got holds on both books (although there’s a long queue for disneywar).

on not finishing books

elf is a neat little service that consolidates library accounts, with a unified calendar of when your books are due, and email reminders.

it helped remind me to renew some of the books i have out that were due just the other day, although it didn’t do anything to help me with the books i have out that are already overdue and can’t be renewed. when i went to see the talk by michael shermer, publisher of skeptic magazine, i took the copy of on intelligence by jeff hawkins and sandra blakeslee that i was nearly finished with, but turned it in while i was leaving. i was very close to done, but i decided to turn it in rather than rack up more fines.

speaking of fines, i just now noticed that the fines and fees will be increased on march 14, 2005. the basic adult book late fee is going from 20¢ a day to 25¢.

when i checked in for the talk this evening, the person doing the check-in recognized my name from the batch of reservations i made for other upcoming talks. i signed up for about a half-dozen of the march/april alôud talks.

the los angeles times has a a review of cafe pinot, which is in downtown los angeles, next door to the central library. (i’ve never eaten there, but it sounds good.)

i went to another talk at the los angeles public library, this time by jeff hawkins, cofounder of palm and handspring, and sandra blakeslee, a science writer, who have coauthored a book called on intelligence, which lays out a sort of foundational theory for neuroscience. it sounds like some really interesting work, with only a minor crossover with jeff’s work at palm and handspring. perhaps i’ll be able to explain better once i’ve actually read the book. (“you are number 9 in the holds list. there are 5 copies eligible for holds.”)

i’ve already rsvp’d for another talk next month, by harold evens, author of they made america: from the steam engine to the search engine: two centuries of innovators. the week has run a couple of excerpts from the book in the last couple of issues. (“you are number 16 in the holds list. there are 12 copies eligible for holds.”)

there’s another discussion i’m thinking of attending next month with robert a.f. thurman, which will be moderated by david o. russell, director of three kings and i ♥ huckabees.

when i was at the library, i returned a couple of books that were due and unrenewable. one i had only gotten part way through (idiot proof: deluded celebrities, irrational power brokers, media morons, and the erosion of common sense by francis wheen), which i wasn’t altogether impressed with, and another that i hadn’t even started (the reformation: a history by diarmaid macculloch), which i’ll have to try again later.