Los Angeles Central Library
Best Children’s Library, August 2013
How do you turn video-addled kids into bibliophiles? Cultivate a sense of wonder. The second-story rotunda at downtown’s Central Library can induce awe in the most jaded youngster, and the library’s collection can’t be beat: 230,000 texts, audiobooks, CDs, and DVDs, including selections in Spanish, Persian, Hebrew, Russian, and Tagalog. A mini theater with scaled-down seats features storytelling and puppet shows; magicians, musicians, and scientists are booked monthly in the grander Mark Taper Auditorium. In the Teen ‘Scape center high-schoolers can access test-prep books and free Adele downloads. Our favorite section is the Children’s Literature Department, where murals of Spanish explorers greet pint-size literary voyagers.
Best Library Collections, April 2009
Want to know how Angelenos prepared a chicken dinner in 1881? Dig into the culinary collection at the Los Angeles Central Library
, where stacks overflow with about 39,000 books on food and wine, from Scandinavian recipes to Jacques Pépin’s trusty tips to classics likeLarousse Gastronomique
. The crème de la crème, however, is in the rare books department, which is by appointment only and contains works from Italy published in the 1500s, Spanish-language titles dating from the 18th century, and California cookbooks such as 1872’s How to Keep a Husband
, or Culinary Tactics
(apparently tomato soup and ginger cookies help). Six thousand menus—mostly representing restaurants around the state, from the Brown Derby to Chez Panisse—provide another link to the past.