Library Lovin'

Ray Bradbury’s love for the written word and imaginative storytelling began long before he learned to read, and as soon as he was able to decipher words on a page he was haunting public libraries. Too poor to afford a university education, Bradbury continued his studies at the public library in Los Angeles as soon as he graduated high school. Late in life, he claimed that libraries raised him, and that his autodidactic approach to learning, which began at the public library as soon as his formal education ended, provided his “complete education.” He believed that literacy was humanity’s best technology—that it should be used, developed, and celebrated. The ability to pursue knowledge on one’s own terms is a human right, and Bradbury emphatically insisted that the means to pursue this should be freely available to everyone.

That’s the ultimate work of a public library.

Selection from Ray Bradbury's personal library on view in the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies.

Public libraries helped Bradbury develop into one of the best known writers of our time, and he never forgot that his success was rooted in the book stacks—the contents of which were widely available to the public. Bradbury’s passion and support for public libraries never wavered. He frequently spoke at public library events, and he never charged those libraries for his services. For Bradbury, the debt he owed to the public library could never be repaid, but he spent his entire professional career trying.

The Inside Scoop

As Tobias Andersen was guided through the many distinctive artifacts in the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies prior to the opening night of his 5-person adaptation of Fahrenheit 451 at the Indiana Reparatory Theatre, he shared unique anecdotes about his life in the theatre, his relationship with Ray Bradbury, and the sheer delight of visiting the center. 

About his decision to pursue his career, he said, “Last night when I saw the show, it took me back to 1963 when I left my father’s business to go to the University of Denver and study theatre because I’d only done a couple of community theatre shows, and somebody told me I should go and see this play called The Fantasticks. If you know the show, there is a character called the mute, and on the stage was this big lump of cloth. The mute comes in from the back, and the piano is playing the opening, and a woman sweeping up gets all the way up and she picks up the cloth… and he says, ‘You wonder how it all began.’ They had me right there, and I said, ‘Man, I’m in the right place.’” 

On Bradbury, he shared this amusing story, “He came several times to Pasadena to see [The Illustrated Bradbury], and I think if I have a favorite, just because the way he would talk about, it’s The Inspired Chicken Motel. Ray swore to me that that is a true story. He did it more than once. You guys that do not know the story, his father had lost his job at the electric company, so they were all alone in the car, and they were looking around for work. They stopped in Amarillo at this chicken ranch thing. They were renting rooms for fifty cents a night because the price was low because the smell was high.” 

He also expressed an interesting belief about Ray’s home in Los Angeles. “I don’t know if anybody else saw it the way that I did, but that was a kind of a Midwest home, that yellow and white and all of that stuff. I mean he’s in the middle of Century City, but he doesn’t care because he’s in his Midwest home. That’s the way I look at it.” 

Most rewarding were the feelings he expressed about visiting the center. “This is a phenomenal thing guys. To see this in my eighty-fifth year is a really terrific thing. You are going send me this stuff [pictures taken during the tour] and I’m going to send it onto my daughters.” 

Before leaving, Tobias had a couple of favors to ask of the staff which clearly demonstrated that he is as passionate about his role in theatre and his love of Bradbury as ever. 

“Here’s one you can do for me, just put your antenna out. Find an actor who is smart enough to do The Illustrated Bradbury. You can make money! You can book that thing. Here’s something else I’ll ask you guys. I have written to Ray’s agents. I’m trying to get them to produce this cut-down version. I’m going to write it. The reason young people nod their head, ‘I don’t know’ when you talk Ray Bradbury or Fahrenheit 451 is because it is a cast of 25, and it is expensive to do. This one tonight is five characters, and I imagine most of the projections and stuff you could put on most any theatre, even a small one...Don’t let this message go away!”

The Tobias Andersen adaptation of Fahrenheit 451 continues at the Indiana Reparatory Theatre through February 20th. Don't Miss out!

Upcoming Bradbury Community Events 

In a dystopian future where the written word is forbidden, firemen are paid to burn books instead of fight fires. But when Montag starts to read the books he is supposed to burn, he begins to question the life he leads. Now he must choose between continuing his regimented existence or risking everything for the right to think. Published in 1953, this science fiction classic is even more relevant today.

Witness Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451
adapted by Tobias Andersen
January 26 – February 20, 2022
Indiana Repertory Theatre | One America Mainstage
Streaming on select days only

Visit for details
Golden Apple Picks
Hiya! By way of introduction, my name is Carrie Cooper. In no particular order and by no means an exhaustive list, I am an artist, entrepreneur, copy editor, book maker, community builder, voracious reader, cafe lover, art supplies enthusiast, musician, avid hiker, vegan foodie, gardener, sun worshipper, yogi, insatiably curious human, facilitator of all things creative, lover of ideas . . . and Assistant Director in the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies. Here are my Golden Apple Picks. I hope they bring you joy.


Michael Zapata, The Lost Book of Adana Moreau

“But beyond that, she explained, beyond history or the mistakes of men, beyond time, which was a great and clever thief, beyond all of that, at the edge of the universe or maybe at the start and end of the universe, there was a soft murmur, a constant breath of beauty, a truth.”



The Librarians  
on Hulu

Always a sucker for artifacts, mystery, magic, and . . . libraries, I simply can't watch this series too many times. "Flynn Carsen may appear to be an ordinary librarian working for the world-famous Metropolitan Library, but beneath the public library lies the centuries-old headquarters of scholars and adventurers who investigate the bizarre, collect dangerous artifacts and save the world from supernatural threats." What more do you need?!



Lost in the Stacks 


This delightful show brings together two of my favorite things: music and libraries. Every Friday on WREK Atlanta, Charlie Bennett and friends from the Georgia Tech Library pick a theme and free-associate an hour of music, interviews, and library talk. I'm linking you to Episode 508: 50 Years of Science Fiction, but be sure to check out some of the other episodes. And stay tuned, I have a feeling we'll be hearing more from Charlie, lost in our own stacks here in the Bradbury Center. 

Fun Facts From the Archives
View of Ray Bradbury's personal library in the recreation of his office at the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies

My personal library is one of my most treasured collections. Its contents have outlived friendships and romances, traveling between dorm rooms, apartments, and houses. At different times it has been arranged by author, by genre, or by color. Some volumes have been lost along the way – lent out and not returned, but never forgotten.

At the Bradbury Center, we preserve Bradbury’s personal library in our recreation of his Los Angeles basement office. The shelves surrounding each of the four walls contain over a thousand volumes. Bradbury’s collected books, periodicals, and pulp and glossy magazines stimulated him throughout his career.

Arranged in no particular order, Space Flight bumps up against The World’s Great Letters. Volumes on horror and dinosaurs are scattered amongst poems and plays, books about writing, and even books about books. Bradbury’s personal ibrary reflects his varied interests, from comics to classics. Here are a few highlights:

· A family heirloom volume of Alice in Wonderland, inscribed with the names of his grandfather, father, and himself.

· A Buck Rogers “Little Big Book” circa 1930s.

· Of Mice and Men, inscribed with the year Bradbury received or read it, 1939. He was fond of Steinbeck’s work. On Valentine’s Day in 1947, his wife Maggie gifted him a copy of The Wayward Bus, which we know from its inscription.

We are fortunate to have these insights into what books held meaning for Bradbury through his personal library. The inscriptions provide richer information about how Bradbury acquired them, when he read them, and previous owners.

Personal libraries reveal much about us as people. They often contain volumes that comfort us, perhaps returning us to the safety of childhood bedtime each time the cover is cracked. Volumes that helped us gain expertise, insights, and perspectives, or stories we enjoyed and wish to revisit again and again. Sometimes, they contain books that changed us, fundamentally altering our beings.

If you had to choose one volume from your personal library to memorize (based on the famous ending of Fahrenheit 451) what would you choose? Answer our Bradbury Center Reader Poll here.

We know it is difficult to choose amongst your treasures, but we would love to hear from you!

By Sarah Whaley

Ray Bradbury was very outspoken when it came to his love of libraries. “I am a librarian. I discovered me in the library. I went to find me in the library. Before I fell in love with libraries, I was just a six-year-old boy. The library fueled all of my curiosities, from dinosaurs to ancient Egypt. When I graduated from high school in 1938, I began going to the library three nights a week. I did this every week for almost ten years and finally, in 1947, around the time I got married, I figured I was done. So I graduated from the library when I was twenty-seven. I discovered that the library is the real school.” His love of libraries remained a constant through the rest of his life, giving hundreds of lectures in libraries, doing book signings, and raising funds for various libraries across the US. “They’re the center of our lives. There’s no use going to a university if you don’t live at the library.” He even went on to write a lovely poem titled “The Library” in Greentown Tinseltown:

          Why is it, nights, I wake and there again
          Surrounded by the bricked-in dark
           I walk the aisles and touch my friends.
           Bump elbows, rustle veils, know the leather skin
           Hear voices calling in a wilderness of leaves
           In vast autumnal place I stand as still
           As deer which hears a tread of death behind
           And fastens to the very rooted earth;
           An exhalation of old summer wanders in
           And turns a vagrant page left wide on the table 
           Under lamp as green as spring, as clear as water wine.

Much like Bradbury, I recall spending many days of my childhood in the library. I remember the rush from searching for a new book amongst the tall stacks, smelling the pages and wishing it was a scent that could be bottled. I inhaled information on things like the solar system, dinosaurs, clubs for babysitters and even how a little girl named Junie dealt with monsters under her bed (for some personal research). Much like Bradbury, I feel like I really discovered myself in the library. I got to educate myself on the things that interested and mattered to me. I don’t often find myself in libraries anymore, but when I do, I get an instant hit of nostalgia like a warm hug that lets me know I’m home. 

By Jordan Brinker-Saigaonkar
Director’s Note
The Bradbury Center works hard to preserve and advance Ray Bradbury’s legacy. We do this by helping people cultivate their imaginations, foster robust reading lives, and pursue the things they love. But we cannot do this alone. We cannot do it without your support. Your gift means more to us than we can adequately express in just a few short lines. By giving to the Bradbury Center, you become part of the team, part of our work, part of the legacy, and we are beyond grateful. Thank you so much!
-Jason Aukerman
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