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Podcast: How the Los Angeles Public Library made libraries cool

Los Angeles Central Library COVID
Children’s librarian Sara Rebman sorts books in the Los Angeles Central Library.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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It’s been quite the year for the Los Angeles Public Library — and the COVID-19 pandemic is only part of the story.

Inauguration Day cast a national spotlight on Amanda Gorman, who got her start reading poetry via the L.A. Public Library’s youth program. And teen punk group the Linda Lindas gained worldwide fame after a concert at the Cypress Park branch of one of America’s largest public library systems.

Today, we talk to L.A. librarian Kevin Awakuni about how the city’s system has become an incubator for making libraries hip. We also get L.A. Times columnist Patt Morrison to explain how a city long dismissed as an intellectual wasteland learned to treasure its libraries in the wake of a devastating fire.

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Host: Gustavo Arellano

Guest: Los Angeles Public Library librarian Kevin Awakuni, and L.A. Times columnist Patt Morrison

More reading:

‘Whoa, this is crazy’: L.A. teen punks the Linda Lindas on going viral (just before finals)

How a 22-year-old L.A. native became Biden’s inauguration poet

Who started the 1986 fire at the Los Angeles Library? Susan Orlean investigates in her new book

Listen to more episodes of The Times here

About The Times

“The Times” is made by columnist Gustavo Arellano, producer Shannon Lin, senior producers Steven Cuevas and Denise Guerra, executive producer Abbie Fentress Swanson and editor Julia Turner. Our engineer is Mario Diaz and our theme song was composed by Andrew Eapen.

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