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Lights! Camera! Read!

Novelist William Faulkner did research in the Hollywood branch of the Los Angeles Public Library during his screenwriting days. Aldous Huxley also used the library. So did Dorothy Parker, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dashiell Hammett and historian Will Durant. Raymond Chandler even had detective Philip Marlowe doing some research there in “The Big Sleep.” Now a new library is ready to help another generation of researchers.

Destroyed by fire in 1982, the Hollywood branch has been rebuilt and will be dedicated today as the Frances Howard Goldwyn Hollywood Regional Branch. The light, open, inviting building, designed by architect Frank Gehry, was made possible by a $3.24-million gift from the Samuel Goldwyn Foundation.

Earlier this week, volunteers and staff members from the Hollywood branch and the Central Library--themselves homeless because of a fire--worked to shelve books, install computers, prepare exhibits, arrange tables and chairs and generally get ready for today’s dedication and open house. Giant movie posters already decorate the white walls--conjuring up memories of everything from Mary Pickford’s “Hulda of Hollywood” to “Gone With the Wind,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Fantasia” and “Casablanca.”

Since the Hollywood fire, librarian Georgette Todd and her staff have been working in the library’s warehouse, salvaging books and cataloguing new acquisitions. Now they are ready for business again on Ivar Street just off Hollywood Boulevard, and the library’s presence there can only help in the efforts to restore Hollywood itself to its old vitality.

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Samuel Goldwyn Jr., who heads the foundation that built the new library, wanted “to excite people to come in and read.” His foundation, the architect, the library staff and many community residents who have donated books, magazines, money and time have created a happy combination of dreams and design to kick off many more years of Hollywood research and reading pleasure.


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