From Los Angeles’ first female librarian to social and racial justice pioneers, these are just a few examples of the people and places that fill the pages of a new coloring book.
“You know, not everyone gets a book. Not everyone can be featured in newspapers,” said Vi Ha, senior librarian at the central branch of the LA public library.
Ha also manages the Octavia Lab, named after the late award-winning science fiction writer Octavia Butler. It is a creative space and a digital laboratory that was a public resource until COVID-19 closed its doors. In June, Ha and his team had an idea.
“We started with Octavia Butler’s birthday coloring sheet and then moved on,” Ha said.
Every week they posted a new coloring sheet on social media. It features lesser-known heroes from diverse backgrounds, but they’ve all helped shape LA history. The library used the hashtag Hidden heroes, Historic places.
“People kept saying, ‘Do you have a coloring book? For example, can we buy them? I want a whole book,'” said Rachel Andersson, president of Best friends, a library support group.
They joined forces with LA Conservatory and donate money to help publish and print a coloring book featuring 15 coloring sheets.
“Not only kind of a way to pass the time, but also a kind of cathartic and stress reliever,” Andersson said.
So far, the library claims to have sold hundreds of copies and raised thousands of dollars. Money helped Octavia Lab 3D print face shields for essential workers across Los Angeles
“It’s really so encouraging. Everyone finds a story that they resonate with in this book,” said Andersson.
“I learned a lot about the history of Los Angeles,” Ha said.
And she hopes others will too, or just be inspired to find the local heroes in their communities.
“You think of history as this great thing that happens to other people, but there is always a local story to the story,” Ha said.
She said there’s a good chance someone in your own family was part of a social movement or worked to make change.
“These are not people who seek fame. These are people who are just trying to do what’s right.”