LAPL Photo Collection: Year End Review

Christina Rice, Senior Librarian, Photo Collection,
Valley Times photographer George Brich turns the camera on himself in 1962. (Valley Times Collection, order #00115381)

Over at the LAPL Photo Collection, we were full steam ahead as always in 2014; processing collections, digitizing photos, acquiring new collections, mounting exhibits, coordinating programs, and assisting patrons with research and orders. There are more highlights than we could ever fit into one post, but here are a few.


Vintage cars lined up on freeway

Early model cars break tape to become first vehicles officially to ride on new one-mile section of the Hollywood Freeway in 1962 (Gordon Dean/Valley Times Collection, order# 00109085)

We were all about our Valley Times Collection this year, and together with Photo Friends continued our task of digitizing all photos which were shot by the newspaper’s top notch staff. The Valley Times ran from 1946-1970 and covered events throughout the San Fernando Valley which was a key period of the region’s history. VT archivist Christine has been highlighting some fun finds on a special Valley Times project website, and we’ve kept VT Catalogers Sophie, Maria, and Lisa busy by sending up thousands of images for digitization. This year, with the help of a $121,000 Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) Grant, we’ve been forging ahead and have digitized almost 10,000 Valley Times images which can be viewed online. Only 35,000 more to go!

Betty Edwards at desk at Rocketdyne.

"Betty Edwards of Canoga Park is UCLA engineer. Her work is designing installation of electrical utilities throughout Rocketdyne facilities in Valley. Women play important part in company's space age." (Valley Times Collection, order# 00086243) 

In addition to digitizing Valley Times photos, we also examined one of the unexpected themes that emerged from the Valley Times Collection with “Defining Their Identity: The Changing Roles of Women in the Post-War Valley.” The exhibit, which celebrates the women of the Valley Times, including architects, engineers, pioneers, and rocket scientists is on display in the History & Genealogy Department at Central Library until January 2, so hurry down if you can, or order a copy of the exhibit catalog which features around 150 photos.

Can’t make it to Central Library before January 2nd? That’s ok, because we’ve got the Valley Times on display in many Valley locations, including the Mid-Valley, Encino, and North Hollywood Branches, the new Museum of the San Fernando Valley, and a special exhibit at Council Member Tom LaBonge’s Sherman Oaks field office (call for hours).

Actress Hedy Lamarr signs an autograph during a 1940 premiere

Actress Hedy Lamarr signs an autograph during a 1940 premiere in a photo that was added to the online collection in 2014. (Herald Examiner Collection, order# 00106314) 

This year, we were lucky enough to add a new full-time staff member to the Photo Collection. Wendy has been with LAPL as a children’s librarian for a number of years but has now assumed the role of Herald Examiner Archivist. With over two million photos in the Herald Examiner Collection, Wendy has her work cut out for her, but has made headway with organizing the collection. She has shared some of her finds on this very blog and curated the upcoming Central Library exhibit "From Pop to the Pit: LAPL Photo Collection Celebrates the Los Angeles Music Scene 1978-1989." Thank you, Wendy!

Puppeteer Bob Baker with marionette

Puppeteer Bob Baker. (Gary Leonard Collection, order# 00029309)

We were extremely saddened by the recent death of Bob Baker whose Marionette Theatre is a local treasure. We are however happy to report that the Los Angeles Public Library is now the custodian of Bob’s image archive which includes photos documenting his career in puppetry along with those relating to his family who have resided in Los Angeles for well over a century. We received some of the collection in 2013 and the remainder a few months back and Bob was very happy that his photos found a home with us. So are we!  

Photo Friends has been working non-stop on the Valley Times fundraising project, but also continued to assist us by sponsoring amazing programs for the Photographer’s Eye and L.A. in Focus series.  If you missed some of the lectures which discussed, among other things, oranges, Hollywood street corners, 1960s rock music, Disney engineering, hard-to-research film stars, or the inimitable Gary Leonard, be sure to check out our L.A. in Focus archive.

Women jumping on the beach with sign that says 1933

Bathing beauties bring in a Southern California New Year. (Chamber of Commerce Collection, order# 00070522)

As always, our main focus in the Photo Collection is digitization and getting our images accessible through the LAPL website. Over 7,000 images were added to the online collection in 2014 and this month (drumroll please) we officially hit the 100,000 mark overall! That’s right, there are now 100,000 images from the LAPL Photo Collection that can be viewed through our website. Thanks to everyone in the Photo Collection and the Digitization Department for contributing to this amazing achievement. Just in case you don’t have the time to search through 100,000 photos, you can get an L.A. photo fix by following us on Twitter and Facebook.

Wishing all the Photo Fans a happy and prosperous New Year!