No one took the fire alarms seriously on April 29, 1986 at the Main Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library, because the alarms were always going off without provocation. People left their personal belongings and exited the building. They knew the drill; most of them had been through this before. The firemen would come and reset the alarms and give the all-clear for everyone to reenter the building.
Even the firemen thought it would be a routine trip to the library, and at first they couldn’t understand why the alarm wouldn’t reset. But this time was different. This time there was a real blaze, and the library’s old fashioned configuration helped feed oxygenated air to the flames as over a million books were damaged or consumed.
Susan Orlean picks through the ashes, picks through history, and picks through lies to try to find out what happened. You’d think a fire like that would make international headlines. But a problem in the Chernobyl nuclear power plant diverted everyone’s attention. So if you missed it when it happened, or if it was before your time, pick up The Library Book.
@simonschuster @SimonBooks @susanorlean