While the Los Angeles public library buildings remain closed to the public, librarians from several branches have created comfortable and fun programs online. Los Angeles Times City Beat Columnist Nita Lelyveld joined us to share all the details.

What You Need To Know

  • Although L.A. Public Library buildings are closed to the public, librarians from several branches have come together to create online programs

  • Some of the classes teach participants about literacy, gardening, and citizenship

  • The library’s career online high school allows adults to obtain their high school diploma and career certificate 

"The Los Angeles Public Library system has been offering various classes and projects for people of all ages. I went to many literacy classes where people were improving their English or learning English, and I saw people from all over the world participating. There were so many different accents, and you could peak into so many other lives, and people were taking these classes that were so eager to learn that they were standing outside able to take these classes,” said Lelyveld.

Learning about people’s experiences through the resources offered by the libraries was very rewarding for Lelyveld.

“In L.A., we’re so hampered by traffic, and just getting to a library to go to an event or a class can be very hard for people, especially for people who have multiple jobs and complicated lives. And, what this online experience has given them is the opportunity to travel to branches all over the city to take many different classes, and they can do it on the bus while standing outside, or while cooking,” said Lelyveld.

The libraries offer an online high school that will allow adults to earn a high school diploma and a career certificate.

“People have more time now, so they’re finding that more people are signing up for the literacy classes and the online high school. The online high school is a spectacular thing that I didn’t know about at the library. Suppose you’re an adult and you just never got around to getting a high school degree, and you want one, or it’s just something you felt was a missed opportunity for you. In that case, you can get one and train for different careers and get a certificate at the same time that will help you get a job,” said Lelyveld.

There are a few upsides to the extra time people have. Different library staff members who are usually so busy in their branches are now collaborating to do these online courses. “You might have a course that has one teacher from Chinatown and one teacher from Westwood. It is a beautiful thing, and more people are getting to know each other,” said Lelyveld. 

It has recently become possible to sit outside almost all of the library system’s branches to use the free Wi-Fi six days a week, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. While 2020 has been a challenging year, the librarians have learned to apply these resources to people after the pandemic ends.

“They want to continue with a lot of these Zoom classes because it will give people opportunities to take classes they might not be able to otherwise. And, I think they love the collaboration, they love getting to know each other and doing things together across the city,” said Lelyveld. 

For more information about the LA Public Library’s online programs, visit Los Angeles Public Libary.