Saturday, August 25, 2007

USC: A Visit to Doheny Memorial Library

While visiting USC on Move-In Day last week, we took the time to explore Doheny Memorial Library. The library celebrates its 75th anniversary next month.

The library was named in honor of Edward L. Doheny, Jr., a USC alumnus who tragically was murdered in 1929. The Memorial Library, built by Doheny's parents, opened three and a half years after his death and has been a focal point of the campus ever since.

Decades ago the library sat on University Avenue, with automobile traffic separating the library from the Bovard Administration building. (Click here and scroll down to see a photo of University Avenue in 1921, before the library was built.) University Avenue was later closed to traffic and renamed Trousdale Parkway. Walking around USC now, you'd never know that a street once divided the campus.

I don't have a good photo of the library exterior handy, but you can see pictures here and here.

As you walk up the steps to the library, plaques mark addresses given on the library steps by former Presidents Kennedy and Ford:

Above the library doors:

The interior photos were taken without a flash but convey some of the library's beauty:

I love the card catalogue room. The beautiful wood card catalogues are all preserved -- though empty -- and serve as a backdrop for rows of computer screens. What a wonderful combination of historical preservation and modern convenience.

Several floors of the library are underground. This downstairs lobby has lovely marble and other detail work:

The L.A. Times Reference Room has been seen on TV recently in a Pizza Hut commercial:

We spent the most time downstairs in the Cinema Library, where we glimpsed Constance McCormick at work on her movie scrapbooks in a little room deep within the stacks. The Cinema Library has many film posters on the walls -- some of them signed -- and a nice exhibit of Cecil B. DeMille memorabilia. The school credits DeMille with founding its famed cinema school in 1929.

I hope you enjoy these glimpses of one of the architectural and historic jewels of Los Angeles.


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