Front row, from left: Sr. Lib. Johathan Pitre, Memorial; city councilman Tom LaBonge; Sr. Lib. Roy Stone, Fairfax. Second row: city librarian John F. Szabo, BLS Director Cheryl Collins; Sr. Lib. Pearl Yonezawa, Los Feliz; Asst. business manager Eloisa Sarao; Hollywood area manager Paul Montgomerie; CD4 legislative dep. Debbie Kim; and clerk Patrice Myrick-Johnson.
A stone monument originally erected in front of the Los Angeles Central Library in the 1920s and has a new home: the Memorial Branch Library.
The monument was unveiled Monday morning at the branch near Los Angeles High School by councilmember Tom LaBonge and L.A. city librarian John Szabo.
The original monument was housed in front of the Los Angeles Central Library until a fire started by an arsonist in April 1986 ravaged the building and destroyed hundreds of thousands of books.
LaBonge explained that there was a great sense of civic movement and community after the fire broke out.
"When we had the tragedy in '86, there was a great civic movement to not only rebuild the library but also to expand," LaBonge said in a telephone interview.
During the library's renovation and expansion efforts, the monument was relocated to a nearby storage yard in Griffith Park, where LaBonge rediscovered it a few months ago.
LaBonge has worked to restore and bring back the monument's history with the support and assistance of the Los Angeles Public Library and the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. After a series of meetings with city librarian Szabo and various other representatives, it was determined that the monument would be displayed near Los Angeles High School.
"To have a historic marker that was kind of lost in orphanage [...] and to have great leadership of our library, and our special team from general services to recreate a living space at the memorial branch — I'm very happy. That will be there forever now. I’m very pleased that we will succeed in doing this," said LaBonge.
The stone monument, measuring about 4 ft. by 5 ft., contains an inscription with the words "Los Angeles Public Library" across the pages of an open book. The monument is an original piece that has not been tampered with or damaged.
LaBonge emphasized the importance of libraries in every neighborhood.
"In every neighborhood, there’s a library. They are very important learning centers and information centers. [...] It’s very special, and we’re glad we’re able to enhance it today," said LaBonge.
Attendees of the unveiling ceremony included local residents, librarians and faculty from the Memorial Branch Library, Friends of the Library, among various other associations.