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HomeCalendarJohn F. Szabo, City Librarian of the LA Public Library, talks about the 1986 library disaster

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John F. Szabo, City Librarian of the LA Public Library, talks about the 1986 library disaster

Wednesday, May 26, 2021, 10:30 AM
Zoom -
Meeting ID: 8

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When:  Wednesday, May 26, 10:30 a.m.

Where:  Zoom -
Meeting ID: 829 6286 1692
Passcode: library
Dial by your location +1 669 900 9128
Meeting ID: 829 6286 1692

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John F. Szabo, City Librarian of the LA Public Library, talks about The Library Book by Susan Orlean


A seven-hour fire raged through the Los Angeles Public Library on April 29, 1986, destroying or damaging more than a million books. It was the largest library disaster in American history. What or who started the fire? John F. Szabo, the City Librarian of the Los Angeles Public Library, will be talking about Susan Orlean's The Library Book, and how the Library is thriving today.


John F. Szabo – City Librarian Los Angeles Public Library

John F. Szabo is the City Librarian of the Los Angeles Public Library, which serves over four million people—the largest population of any public library in the United States. He oversees the Central Library and 72 branches. In 2015, the Library received the nation’s highest honor for library service, the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, for its success in meeting the needs of Angelenos and providing a level of social, educational and cultural services unmatched by any other public institution in the city. Under his leadership, the Library’s major initiatives include those related to immigrant integration and citizenship, improving financial literacy and providing health resources and programs. He has expanded the library’s reach into the city’s diverse communities through partnerships with several community-based organizations. He has more than 25 years of leadership experience in public libraries, previously serving as the director of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System, Clearwater (FL) Public Library System, Palm Harbor (FL) Public Library and Robinson (IL) Public Library District. Throughout his career, Szabo has championed innovative library services that address critical community needs in areas including health disparities, workforce development, adult literacy, school readiness and emergent literacy for preschoolers. Szabo received his master’s degree in information and library studies at the University of Michigan and his bachelor’s degree in telecommunications from the University of Alabama. He completed the Senior Executives in State and Local Government program at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He also participated in a Group Study Exchange with Rotary International Foundation, visiting libraries and archives in Sicily and the Aeolian Islands. He currently serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees of OCLC, a worldwide, member-driven library cooperative, and on the Board of Directors for the University of Southern California’s Center for Library Leadership and Management. He has previously served on the Executive Boards of the Urban Libraries Council and California Humanities and as president of the Florida Library Association.