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Lodrick M. Cook Rotunda a gem of the Los Angeles Central Library

The Lodrick M. Cook Rotunda a must-see sight at the Los Angeles Central Library.

The Central Library in downtown Los Angeles might not have the historical gravitas of the New York Public Library’s lion-flanked headquarters. Or the architectural edge of Seattle’s angular Central Library (completed 2004). Or the rooftop splendor of San Diego’s dome-topped Central Library (completed 2013). But it does have one truly cool room upstairs.

And since this is the last day of Banned Books Week, why not celebrate that room (and all libraries) with a one-minute video journey?

On the way in, you’ll see that wacky pyramid on top of the library, some of the handsome fountains in the garden, a horn player on the sidewalk and a few scenes from the stacks. The climax is the cool room: the Lodrick M. Cook Rotunda on the second floor, where murals from the 1930s surround you, an interior dome arches high above and a globe chandelier dangles brilliantly.

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FOR THE RECORD

Oct. 27, 11:12 a.m.: An earlier version of this post and its headline misspelled the Los Angeles Central Library's rotunda as the Lodrick M. Cook Rotunda. The correct spelling of Cook's first name is Lodwrick.

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The murals by Dean Cornwell depict four key eras in state history, including the arrival of European immigrants, the construction of the missions and the beginnings of modern arts and industry here. 

The chandelier, designed by Goodhue Associates in 1926, got a major restoration as part of the library’s rebirth and expansion after a major arson fire in 1986. If you stand right under the globe, you’ll see 48 lights around the rim (there were 48 U.S. states at the time) and the signs of the zodiac.

Naturally, the L.A. library people themselves have more details. The same goes for those libraries in New York, Seattle and San Diego.

A Minute Away” is a video series in which nothing much happens -- except you see the world, and hear it, and get a minute’s respite from workaday life. (Actually, some are as long as 1:40.) These are casual moments without talking heads or narration -- just natural sound from Machu Picchu, Red Square, the Yucatan, an Alaska float plane or the reading room of the New York Public Library. We add new ones weekly, and we’ve got more than 60 of them now, so if you’d prefer a full hour away …

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