One Book, One Watertown 2019: The Library Book

The Watertown Free Public Library is thrilled to announce that The Library Book will be our One Book, One Watertown community read for 2019. Part true crime, part love letter to libraries (and the people who inhabit them), all expertly woven together into a captivating read by renowned author and journalist Susan Orlean.

The Library Book begins ostensibly as a book about the burning of the Central Library in Los Angeles on April 29th, 1986. But throughout the story of the devastating fire and subsequent arson investigation, Susan Orlean explores the past, present, and future of the Los Angeles Public Library. From its humble and decidedly undemocratic beginnings in 1873 as a subscription service open primarily to men of means, Orlean traces the Los Angeles Public Library’s transformation to a vibrant community hub with 73 locations serving everyone who walks through the doors, calls on the phone, or interacts with the library through its many digital incarnations.

Picture of the LA main library surrounded by firetrucks, smoke billowing.
Smoke engulfs the Los Angeles Central Library in 1986. (Ben Martin/Getty Images)

“Somehow she manages to transform the story of a library fire into the story of literacy, civil service, municipal infighting and vision, public spaces in an era of increasing privatization and social isolation…and the central role libraries have always and will always play in the life and health of a bustling democracy.” Dave Eggers

In 2019, the Watertown Free Public Library will celebrate our 150th anniversary. Solon Whitney began the library as a room in Town Hall in March of 1869, and we’ve been evolving ever since.

We chose The Library Book as our community read because it is a beautiful ode that amply illustrates the importance and vitality of libraries in our current age. What will the next 150 years bring? Through its exploration of how the Los Angeles Public Library has grown, evolved, and adapted to changing times and changing needs of the community, Susan Orlean has also told the story of how all libraries have necessarily done the same. While the Watertown Free Public Library will be celebrating the 150 years that have passed, we want very much to keep looking towards the future. What will the next 150 years bring? How have libraries transformed and where will they go next to meet the community’s ever changing needs? What is the future of the Watertown Free Public Library?

Copies of The Library Book will be available beginning in January. We will also have books on cd, as well as ebooks and eaudiobooks available. We hope you will read it, share it, discuss it, and join us in March and April for events and programs. See you around the library!

– Kerri, WFPL Reference Librarian

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