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Susan Orlean finds history and drama in LA's Central Library's past

Susan Orlean  in the atrium at the L.A. Central Library.
Susan Orlean in the atrium at the L.A. Central Library.
Todd Johnson/KPCC

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Writer Susan Orlean has a knack for turning ordinary sounding subjects into extraordinary stories. Her inquiries into the arrest of an orchid thief in south Florida became a best-selling book that was eventually adapted into the film, "Adaptation," starring with Meryl Streep as Orlean.

In addition, her article about young surfer girls in Maui became the inspiration for the film "Blue Crush."

Recently, Susan Orlean relocated to Los Angeles where she's found the subject of her next book: The Central Library in downtown L.A.

"What made this the one that attracted me so much was, number one I love being contrarian, nobody thinks anyone in L.A. reads and of course that's not true, so it's much more fun to write a book about the L.A. Public Library," said Orlean. "This library has a fascinating history, most significantly is its near death experience is what made me think, 'wow this is a great story.'"

RELATED: Susan Orlean's next book to mine stories from LA's Central Library (Photos)

Orlean has been spending hours at the historic building on Flower Street in downtown L.A. studying the library's history and interviewing librarians past and present. She reminds us of a fire that ravaged the Central Library back in April 29, 1986.