Posted by: Brad Nixon | April 12, 2018

A Reading Room With a View; At the Local Library for National Library Week

Over the past eight years, I’ve celebrated libraries around the world and across the U.S. Today, as part of this year’s observance of National Library Week, I’ll take the shortest possible drive to the nearest public library. It’s just 1.6 miles up the hill from UWS headquarters: the Palos Verdes Library District Miraleste Branch:

Miraleste librrary Brad Nixon 1546 (640x471)

Designed by well-known Los Angeles architect A. Quincy Jones (not the music producer) and Frederick Emmons, the branch opened in 1970. The one-level structure comprises, essentially, a single open space of about 6,000 sq. feet and has a modest collection of fiction, non-fiction, children’s books, periodicals and media CDs and DVDs, as well as a number of Internet terminals.

Miralest Library Brad Nixon 1544 (640x377)


Although located in Los Angeles County, the Palos Verdes library system is a special local district, and not part of the enormous LA County system. It receives solid support from the 70,000 residents of four communities that occupy the PV peninsula, and is one of two branch libraries in the system. The central library, a few miles away, is extensive, a significant local resource, and merits an article of its own. Like most branch libraries, Miraleste offers residents the opportunity of reserving a book or media from the central library, and it usually arrives at Miraleste within 24 hours for pickup.

Here’s a snapshot of the library interior.

Miraleste interior Brad Nixon 1543 (640x475)

I’ll point out two features of that photograph, shot late on a weekday afternoon. First, every individual you see is a minor. The library is immediately adjacent to an intermediate school (grades 6-8, or approximately 11- to 13 year-olds). Librarians across the U.S. are familiar with that scene. As soon as school’s out for the day, the library fills up with kids. That’s not a bad thing, per se. If there were a pool hall or a casino next door to the school, the public might be concerned. Libraries (and, hence, librarians) do, however, become de facto child care providers. Somewhere there’s a balance. The community doesn’t fund a library and staff to provide an option for latchkey kids, but it’s not the worst compromise, either. Gotta hang out somewhere. Better a library than at home watching Fox News. They’ve been a pretty well behaved group any time I’ve been there, although some of the librarians might take issue with that assertion.

Secondly are those big windows, overexposed in the photo. Miraleste is not one of the world’s most striking bibliotectic structures, despite its relatively lofty provenance from the pencil of Mr. Jones. However, it has one of the most stunning views of any library I know of. Certainly better than the months I spent looking at the snow through the porthole-sized window of a tiny study carrel in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Miralest view Brad Nixon 1542 (640x479)

The photo, looking eastward on a hazy afternoon, shows the Port of Los Angeles, the coastline of Long Beach and points south and, faintly visible beyond, the Santa Ana mountains.

You might not want to spend a great deal of time there while the young Miraleste Cavaliers are enjoying their after-school revels, but get there in mid-morning, and it’s a delightful place to sit for a couple of hours, take in the view and … well, read a book!

One final note. The main library of the system stays open on Sundays: something beyond the budget of many — perhaps most — local libraries. That’s entirely due to the efforts of the PV Library’s volunteer Friends of the Library. As you celebrate National Library Week, remember to thank your local library volunteers … or consider becoming one.

The Miraleste Branch library is located at 29089 Palos Verdes Drive East, Rancho Palos Verdes, California. Click on the link for operating hours and directions.

Happy Library Week. What’s happening at your library? Leave a comment.

© Brad Nixon 2018


  1. The Canberra city centre library is quite a nice place to drop in to – rather small but it has a pleasant light-filled outlook (upstairs anyway) and good seats to sit in and read. The other libraries around the town are rather different affairs – all seem to have been influenced by the same model of undressed concrete, low ceilings and exposed aircon ducting which was a fashion Canberra went through in the 1960s and 70s.
    But they are all good places to read in, are open every day and have a dedicated and helpful bunch of volunteers who keep them running which in this day and age I find quite refreshing.
    When I was young libraries were places to keep quiet in — and these days they are quite lively places with book readings and activities for kids to participate in. Also back then it was a novelty of our city library that you could borrow music LP records as well as books, and these days the libraries can almost be compared to HMV stores with so many DVDs and CDs.
    Two other Canberra libraries deserve a mention. The National Library which is different in that you cannot simply browse the stacks – apart from a few books in the main area you need to consult the librarians and request the books be brought to you (which you cannot borrow) to read in the reading rooms. The other is the Australian War Memorial library which is a trove of historical information (mainly militaria naturally) contained in a relatively modest public browsing collection and a controlled research collection.
    Finally, it is great to live near a large university with extensive library facilities which are open to the public (though not for borrowing).

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Speaking of libraries that offer resources beyond books and computer terminals, one of my favorites is the one in Malvern, Arkansas. Lined up along one wall is a collection of rods and reels, which can be checked out for a seven day period. Get yours back on time, though, or you’ll be paying a dollar-a-day fine!

    I wouldn’t have discovered the fishing gear had my laptop not died in the middle of some travels, making it necessary to turn to the library for a day or two of connectivity. One of the wonders of travel through Arkansas and Kansas was the ubiquity of libraries, even in the smallest towns. Many were only one room, often in an old commercial building, they had books, and they had volunteers. I have photos I need to turn into a post of some sort. Arkansas, especially, was a revelation. It’s far more than Hicksville writ large.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a great story about Malvern. All of what you say rings true. Communities invest in libraries to whatever degree they have means, and the zeal with which they do so is impressive, everywhere. I look forward to reading library lore from Shoreacres.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Comment. I enjoy hearing from readers.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: