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Take a trip down Memory Lane

Social Science, Philosophy and Religion Department, Central Library,

Recently, we found a folder tucked away at the back of a file cabinet in the Social Science, Philosophy & Religion Department. The folder was full of suggested reading lists and flyers from the Philosphy & Religion Department’s halcyon past, along with other flyers that represented the entire library. In the pre-Internet era, people had to physically visit the library in order to find materials for their research, finish their homework, or browse popular fiction titles. These flyers and booklists were a useful way of informing the public of the library’s resources, and highlighting popular or important titles. It was one way that people could take a little bit of the library with them.

Without further ado, let’s jump on the library’s wayback machine and take a look at some of them!

Religion 1

Religion 2

The first stop on the wayback machine is 1931. At this time, the Philosophy & Religion Department had been in existence approximately four years, having become a separate department on October 14, 1927. This 1931 tri-fold flyer gave those interested in learning about world religions a starting point in their explorations.  Looking at the copyright dates of some of these titles, many had already been in the library’s collection for up to twenty years, but were considered useful resources.  Some of these titles may still be in our collection today, even if only as a reminder of the state of knowledge during the early 20th century. If interested, search our online catalog at for a title’s availability. The call numbers of the books may have changed slightly, for example, Hinduism is now shelved at 294.5, and Buddhism is now shelved at 294.3. Titles marked as “REF” in our catalog can be read in Central Library only and are not available for checkout.

Other tri-fold and bi-fold flyers were produced by the Philosophy & Religion Department from around this time, on topics such as “Popular Books on Psychology”, “Books on Mental and Physical Health”, and “Books for Consolation”.

On Being Alive

The next stop is an undisclosed year (mostly because no-one thought to write down the publication year of this flyer!). A spot check of some of the titles shows they were published in the late 1930s. This flyer is a single sheet of paper, and not as professionally produced as the 1931 flyer.

Many of the titles on the list would now be considered “self-help”, especially those in the 150.13 and the 170s. Those of you who believe in the phrase “what’s old is new again” might want to give these a second look, keeping in mind that they reflect the attitudes of that era. Current self-help books are shelved starting at 150.131. They are commonly given a subject heading of “Self-actualization (Psychology)” in our catalog.

Your Library Can Help 1

Your Library Can Help 2

Here is another undated tri-fold booklist, probably from around 1950, featuring titles from all departments of the library. The library provided resources on vocational training, getting a job, cooking, crafts and leisure. Some things never change! In the “In Your Home” section, there was even guidance on how to “Pour Yourself a House” by Peters, which is still available in the Science & Technology Department.  An added bonus: a list of the libraries in the Los Angeles system at that time. Some of the branch names or addresses have changed. Does anyone remember the Gardena branch?

National Library Week 1 National Library Week 2

This was a flyer produced for National Library Week possibly during the 1960s, and advertises the importance of libraries. The flyer flips open along the top edge to produce the long list of topics and information that can be found at the public library.

That ends the whirlwind tour! Be sure to take a look at the library’s homepage ( to see what the Los Angeles Public Library has to offer – especially the E-media titles in the “Collections and Resources” section, and the Calendar of Events in the “What’s On?” section. Just as in years gone by, the library remains committed to meeting the information and cultural needs of its patrons.