Saturday, October 1, 2011

READING RAINBOW


After nearly two years of construction, the brand new West Hollywood Library opened with fanfare this morning. Completing the first phase of the city's 25th Anniversary Capital Project, celebrate the milestone with coverage from the dedication of the 32,000 square foot facility - with special guest speakers, entertainment and more!


It is with great civic pride that I share with you the highlights from this morning's program. The outdoor event took place in the adjoining "Library Park", which has replaced and re-purposed West Hollywood Park. Everything was catered with fresh lemonade and snacks, including a slightly confusing chili dog cart (it was 930am). There was live jazz music courtesy of the Ryan Cross Quartet, and lots of tables and chairs set up in front of the main stage. At 1030am, it was time to get started!



Mayor John J. Duran presided over the ceremony, stating that characters from literature both classic (A Tale of Two Cities) and modern (Tales of the City) will co-exist in harmony in the library's comprehensive stacks for decades to come.



He then introduced special guest speaker Jackie Collins, the iconic authoress whose 28th novel will be added to the New York Times Bestseller List next week (along with the previous 27). She spoke of her affection for West Hollywood and the gay community, even reminiscing that she used to love the Japanese porn they played at the now-closed Obar. 

She went on to briefly discuss the importance of libraries for children, humorously stating "I think they get an education from my books, but now they can get a different kind of education". She shared her experience in publishing her first novel, being told that she had to remove all the four-letter words lest she be banned in Australia and Boston: "So I took out all the four-letter words, and I was still banned in Australia in Boston!"

Her message to aspiring writers? Use the library as a place to get inspired and work on your craft. "This is the place for you to come."


Top Row: Mayor Pro Tempore Jeffrey Prang and Councilmember John D'Amico
Bottom Row: Councilmembers John Heilman and Abbe Land

The newest appointed Councilmember, John D'Amico (looking as handsome as ever in a grey pinstriped suit), spoke about the power of the city: "West Hollywood is a transformational place. It's where people come to change their lives."



Christopher Rice (son of author Anne Rice and a novelist, himself) spoke on behalf of the West Hollywood Library Fund, mentioning that there's still a lot of money to be raised. As an incentive, he joked that anyone looking to donate a couple million dollars would get naked photos tweeted from Weho's elected officials. And while we're on the subject, have you guys seen Christopher Rice lately? That is one tall drink of hot water. 


Top Row: LA County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, County Librarian Margaret Donnellan Todd and a gentleman whose name/title escapes me
Bottom Row: Congressman Adam Schiff, Vanity Fair's Jennifer Parker and City Manager Paul Arevalo

Several speakers followed, including recognition of the library's murals by Jennifer Parker from Vanity Fair. The large-scale works of art come from artists Shepard Fairey, RETNA (aka Marquis Lewis) and Kenny Scharf, and will be featured in the November issue of VF as photographed by the brilliant David LaChapelle. 


 
Shepard Fairey's murals are located on either side of the entrance to the new City Council Chambers on the first floor, and are a tribute to West Hollywood's history and iconic landmarks.

The real magic is inside the building itself, though. After the ribbon was cut, excited citizens of all ages poured into the new library, anxious to see the finished product of so much hard work. Here are just a few of my shots - it was very crowded and I was still trying to take in everything around me!


 
Heading up to the third level, this tree sculpture begins on the staircase and reaches towards the skylight. Absolutely beautiful.


The second level also features the West Hollywood Room (background center, above), which will house a complete history of the city, including documents and archives. 


View of the Pacific Design Center from the floor-to-ceiling windows on the third level.


The Children's Library features the incredibly-designed Children's Theatre, which from the outside resembles a giant wooden crate. 


Overall, the library occupies 32,000 square feet of space. This includes the Stuart Feigin Computer and Technology areas, the Wells Fargo Career Development Center, Signature Collections (HIV/AIDS, Arts and Design), the aforementioned Children's Library/Theatre, a Teen Area, an LGBT Area, the International Languages Collection, the Assistive Technology and Large Print Collections, the West Hollywood Room and Archive, reading lounges, group study rooms and the Friends of the Library Bookstore. 



So what are you waiting for? The library is now officially open to the public, and you can get your library card onsite in minutes! And if all this isn't reason enough, tomorrow (Sunday, October 2nd) is also the 10th Annual West Hollywood Book Fair. Take it from someone who will most likely be spending a lot of time here - Weho's newest crown jewel does not disappoint!


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