Speaking up for ALOUD at the Central Library


This month marks the 25th anniversary of the reopening of the Los Angeles Central Library after a cataclysmic fire and phoenix-like rebirth. It is also the 25th anniversary of ALOUD, the library’s landmark program of conversations and performances that has played a crucial role in reviving the image of the city center as a cultural destination

The history of this forum for free thought and civil public discourse was absent from the anniversary celebrations. So was ALOUD’s founder and curator, Louise Steinman, the force behind more than 1,000 of its compelling programs, which encompassed visiting cultural and literary luminaries and talks on politics, string theory and the mind of the octopus.

Steinman and associate producer Maureen Moore had been unceremoniously fired on Aug. 27 by Ken Brecher, president of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. He replaced them Oct. 17 with a person he labeled the library’s “first director of public programs” — a title that rightfully belonged to Steinman.

With that hiring, the erasure of ALOUD’s spirit and history seemed to be complete, at least for Brecher. As an enthusiastic and frequent ALOUD attendee since its inception, I’m left with anger and ashes. After years of feeling proud of the all-embracing role it played in our community, I am ashamed of our city’s public library.

I’m not alone in my dismay. More than 900 people — including Pulitzer Prize winner Viet Thanh Nguyen, Los Angeles Poet Laureate Robin Coste Lewis, Colm Tóibín, Marisela Norte and a host of others — signed a petition in support of Steinman and Moore and requesting transparency and accountability about the way they were treated. Brecher and the Library Foundation never acknowledged us. Perhaps they never valued ALOUD as we do. Read Rest of Article Here

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