Mayor Eric Garcetti, artist Shepard Fairey, City Librarian John F. Szabo and L.A. Cultural Affairs General Manager Danielle Brazell were joined by students from the Downtown Magnets High School for the unveiling of L.A.’s first limited-edition, artist-designed library card today at the Central Library. The card launch concludes the library’s celebration of National Library Week.
Designed by artists Shepard Fairey and Cleon Peterson, the new library card is now available at all 73 locations of the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL). The design features an illustration of the historic Central Library, which is celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2016.
“Our city is the creative capital of the world — and this collaboration between the Los Angeles Public Library and Shepard Fairey is a great expression of how art can enliven our civic institutions,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “It is a beautiful design that will raise awareness about the wealth of resources that our libraries offer, free of charge, to Angelenos of all ages and in every community.”
Fairey is renowned for his iconic “HOPE” portrait of Barack Obama and OBEY GIANT art campaign. His works are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Victoria & Albert Museum and the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, among other institutions.
“We are thrilled to have L.A.’s own Shepard Fairey and Cleon Peterson re-imagine our library card,” said City Librarian John Szabo, “and increase awareness of the only card that lets you access more than six million books and other items in the library’s collection, as well as download e-books and music, stream movies, get online homework help, earn a high school diploma, and much, much more—and all for free.”
The L.A.-based artist, a long-time supporter and advocate for the Los Angeles Public Library, stated, “My wife Amanda and I believe in the value of libraries to provide resources for the public, especially those who can’t afford decent computers or an extensive book collection. When I was younger, I did most of my research for art and design at the library. The L.A. Public Library system also has great tutoring and summer reading programs that are free to the public, and a needed supplement to our underfunded school system.”
Fairey and Peterson’s library card design is based on an illustration created to promote the Library Foundation of Los Angeles’s Young Literati Annual Toast fundraiser. Fairey and his wife Amanda also have supported the library and foundation in many other ways: Shepard has participated as a celebrity reader and even deejayed at Young Literati events, and Amanda is a member of the foundation board and chair of Young Literati.
A 2015 recipient of the nation’s highest honor for library service—the National Medal from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Los Angeles Public Library serves the largest and most diverse urban population of any library in the nation. Its Central Library, 72 branch libraries, collection of more than 6 million books, state-of-the art technology accessible at www.lapl.org, and more than 18,000 public programs a year provide everyone with free and easy access to information and the opportunity for lifelong learning.