When I was a little kid, my school used to conduct bomb drills. Our teacher would line us up along the wall of the corridor where we were taught to do our best to protect our heads by crouching down with our heads between our knees and placing our interlaced fingers across the back of our heads. This was all in case the Russians decided to bomb us to smithereens for no reason except for that they were jealous of our freedom.

I guess the school administration was only acting in step with a national program for “preparedness,” the creator of which, I imagine, was unaware of the policy of Peaceful Co-Existence the Soviet Union adhered to at the time.

In the small town where I went to school, this practice took place for several years and well into the 1970’s.

Another exercise our class did was to line up in orderly fashion and walk single file to the public library next door. In my view, this was a far more pleasant experience. Of course, I always hoped I would get to walk over to the library next to the boy I liked, but once I got there, I didn’t really care. There were all those books.

On top of that, it always felt so cozy and comfortable in the library where everybody is supposed to act nice. They never conducted their terrifying bomb drills in the library.

Ever since that time, I have loved to be in libraries. As a result, I’ve also loved to read. Now an adult, living in the great city of Los Angeles, I’ve learned  that, although it is battle-weary from more and more budget cuts, the public library system still offers one of the best deals around.

I’ve since also learned that books aren’t the only thing you can use for free at the public library. You can also borrow CDs, DVDs, and books on tape. If you go to the downtown Central Library, you can look at microfilms of headlines and articles from any date you can think of, taken from newspapers around the world.

The various branches have comfy seating and free wi-fi too. How much better can it get as far as writing or researching?! You can poke around on the web all you want, and go over and find all manner of reference materials right there on site. The Los Angeles Times articles are all digitally archived and accessible at the various branches online.

Each branch has got all kinds of informative and fun events and workshops going on too. The Central Library has several exhibits going on right now, including one on the Treasures of Los Angeles and one on the Mexican Revolution. I’ll be reporting with video on some of these events very soon!

Recently, a friend of mine needed a whole lot of study materials to get ready for state and federal licensure exams. He’s recently unemployed and could hardly afford to buy all those books. He was getting ready to head over to the thrift stores in the hopes that they would be there. Not a bad idea, especially because you get to own the books; but the thrift stores are hit and miss if you need something specific. He ended up getting everything he needed right at the public library.

That’s a deal that can’t be beat in these hard times.


There are libraries in every neighborhood in Los Angeles. Hours vary. There is usually some free parking AND free wi-fi!

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