Book it, kids

Los Angeles Central Library atrium

Los Angeles Central Library atrium

I really like this atrium, but the chandeliers bring back the eternal question: why do we juvenilize libraries in this culture? Most branch libraries I make it to are full of kids who–you’ll forgive me for saying this–I doubt very much need to be there. Even so, branch libraries tend to be built horizontally and laid out like romper rooms, so perhaps the kids belong there. But why does even the grand[1] Central Library building need to be Sesame Streeted up with bright colors and primitivist animals?

Have we ceded reading to the young ones, along with the top-40 list? Maybe we wouldn’t have library funding crises if taxpayers (so many of whom are adults) felt ownership in their libraries, or at least believed they aren’t merely subsidizing tween daycare centers. Is it so vital to the culturing of rugrats’ love of books that every space associated with learning needs to stimulate them with candy colors and nightmare fauna?

And can there be a space for people who enjoy badass spaces on their own merits and would prefer them not to be cluttered with sops to the whimsicalists who continue their roachlike invasion of every public space?


1. “Grand” in an LA fashion, anyway. It’s built in a pre-postmodern mishmash of styles and decorated with more, and more exotic, mystical symbols than can be found on all the wallpaper in all the Freemasonry lodges in all the world. But it’s still very, very dapper.