Classic Catalog

The Library Book

by Susan Orlean

About the Book

On April 29, 1986 the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) went up in flames for more than seven hours. The fire destroyed four hundred thousand books and damaged seven hundred thousand more. The library shut down for years in the aftermath. The Library Book investigates the mystery surrounding the infamous fire.

Beyond the LAPL fire, the book is a beautiful homage to our most beloved institution. Susan Orlean emphasizes the essential role that libraries play in our society. She takes us on a journey through the stacks of libraries across the country and around the world. She demonstrates the evolution of libraries through time. From their humble beginnings as charitable organizations, to being cornerstones of civic identity today, libraries are more than the collections they house. They are an integral part of their community’s heart, mind, and soul.

This book was selected as a part of GRPL’s 150 anniversary in 2021.

About the Author

Susan Orlean has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1992. She has contributed articles to many magazines including Vogue, Rolling Stone, Esquire, and Outside. She is the author of seven books, including Rin Tin Tin, Saturday Night, and The Orchid Thief, which was made into the Academy Award–winning film Adaptation. She lives with her family and her animals in upstate New York.

Related Events & Experiences

Curator Battle: GRPL v. GRPM

Thursday, June 24, 2021, 4:00 pm
Virtual Event | The Grand Rapids Public Museum’s Facebook Page

Librarian vs. Curator. Who will win? Watch as a GRPL librarian goes head to head with a Grand Rapids Public Museum curator. This Curator Battle will showcase unique items in both institution’s collections. This friendly competition is sure to educate and entertain.

Share your GRPL Story

Public libraries have a special place in people’s hearts. From childhood memories to transformational experiences, each story is unique. In celebration of our 150 anniversary, we want to hear your GRPL story! Share your memories through our online submission form and attach photographs, videos, and/or drawings.

We’ll post responses on our website and social media channels throughout the year. #MyGRPLStory

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