The autograph is the premise for a dream: maybe, just maybe, the autograph hunter will become the autograph hunted, maybe the autograph will double as a magical transfer of renown, and by receiving the signature, one day you will be signing your name when someone asks. So surmises Josh Kun in the pages of The Autograph Book of L.A., the third in his trilogy of books sponsored by the Library Foundation of Los Angeles and based on the Special Collections of the Los Angeles Public Library.
But leave it to MacArthur Fellow and culture communicator par excellence Kun to take the concept of “autographs” beyond the mere signing of names in little forget-me-not books. He looks at Los Angeles, his hometown, and sees the stamp of other people who also call it home. Suddenly imagery, graffiti, and yes—hand-written names—become the signature of a new Los Angeles, far beyond the one envisioned by Charles Lummis, the city librarian who created the LAPL autograph collection by soliciting a cache of famous people’s signatures on the library’s own embossed stationery. (Angel City Press)
Josh Kun is Professor of Communication and Journalism at the USC Annenberg School, where he holds the Chair in Cross-Cultural Communication. He is an author and editor of several books, including two previous collaborations with the Library Foundation of Los Angeles: Songs in the Key of Los Angeles and To Live and Dine in L.A. As a curator and artist, he has worked with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the California African American Museum, the Getty Foundation, the Grammy Museum, and the Contemporary Jewish Museum, among others. A MacArthur Fellow, he is also the winner of the 2018 Berlin Prize, which is awarded by the American Academy in Berlin, and the 2006 American Book Award, for Audiotopia: Music, Race, and America.
John F. Szabo is the City Librarian of the Los Angeles Public Library. He oversees the Central Library, 72 branches and the Library’s $194 million budget. 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. 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 and on the Board of Directors for California Humanities and the University of Southern California’s Center for Library Leadership and Management. He has previously served on the Executive Board of the Urban Libraries Council and as president of the Florida Library Association.
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