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The Library Book: The author reopens the unsolved mystery of the most catastrophic library fire in American history. This book chronicles the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) fire, and its aftermath, to showcase the crucial role that libraries play in our lives. The author delves into the evolution of libraries around the world, from their humble beginnings to their status as a cornerstone of the community; brings the departments of the library to life through on-the-ground reporting; reflects on her own experiences in libraries; and reexamines the case of Harry Peak, the actor long suspected of setting fire to the LAPL. The fire was disastrous: it reached 2000 degrees and burned for more than seven hours. By the time it was extinguished, it had consumed four hundred thousand books and damaged seven hundred thousand more. Investigators descended on the scene, but more than thirty years later, the mystery remains: Did someone purposefully set fire to the library? In addition to examining the circumstances of the fire, the author delves into the history of the LAPL. The book introduces us to a cast of characters from libraries past and present - from Mary Foy; who in 1880 at eighteen years old was named the head of the LAPL at a time when men still dominated the role, to Dr. C.J.K. Jones, "The Human Encyclopedia," who roamed the library dispensing information. The book introduces readers to Charles Lummis, an eccentric journalist and adventurer who was determined to make the L.A. library one of the best in the world, and to the staff in the twenty-first century, who work every day to ensure that their institution remains a vital part of the city it serves.--adapted from publisher's description and end-papers.