Platt Branch Staff expands to meet need

From left to right: Alicia Steffin, Bruce Silver, Daisy Chen, William Leventhal, and Patty O'Bryan

With the dramatic rise in patrons occasioned by renovations of six other Valley libraries, Platt Branch has added ten new staff members. Here’s an opportunity for Friends members to meet them, starting with the helpful folks behind the checkout counter who have been working overtime to process your selections and expedite your special requests.

Daisy Chen, Charter Staff Member

Hardly a newcomer, Daisy has been a member of the Platt Branch Staff since we opened. Long-time Friends members probably remember meeting Platt’s existential clerical assistant in our June 1995 Newsletter. New members, however, deserve their own introduction. Self-described as a culturally Hispanic Asian-American (her immediate family is Cantonese, Korean-Mexican, and Cuban-American), Daisy was born in southeast Texas and raised in Los Angeles. Which, she says, “means that I have only enough IQ to work on my screenplay.” To which she adds, "LIFE is an education in and of itself." This may explain why her current goals are becoming a “massage therapist, author, raconteuse”--and ultimately “Oprah’s Newest Best Friend.” Asked about her tenure at Platt, she quips, "Being a civil servant in the current library climate defies description." (Which must mean that she's at a loss for superlatives; where else could you get away with using terms like raconteuse?) When not assisting library patrons or corporifying facetiae, Daisy works at local arts festivals and continues to perfect her now near-legendary barbecue sauce and dumplings.

Tomi Fitzgerald, Clerk-Typist (reassigned from Encino-Tarzana Branch)


Early in her career, Tomi found she particularly enjoyed working with children and their parents. The Los Angeles Public Library offered an opportunity to pursue this “feeling of having contributed a ray of sunshine to my fellow citizens,” so she applied in December 2001 and joined the Encino-Tarzana Staff last March. Before that, she attended Pacific Oaks College. Future plans include classes in finance and accounting at UCLA--but just as a sideline. She is seriously considering a major in Library Sciences. Currently commuting from Pasadena, Tomi says she also hopes her family will decide to join her here from their home in Colorado. Her parents are Japanese and African-Cherokee; she was born in Kobe, Japan...which means, she thinks, she’s an American of Afrasian extraction.

William Leventhal, Clerk-Typist

William came to Platt October 9, 2001, from Borders Books in Northridge. A voracious reader and LAPL patron since childhood, he collects mountaineering literature—partially to stay abreast of his other profession: Mountain Guide. In that capacity, he has guided clients up the sheer faces of Half Dome, El Capitan, and many other challenges. His consuming avocation, not surprisingly, is rock climbing. For over 23 years, he has trekked to sites throughout the U. S., Canada, and Mexico, lately with his faithful mountain dog, Maggie. He also loves to cook. A native Angeleno, William says he was adopted at birth by wonderful, loving parents. He attended Calabasas High School and graduated from UCLA with a BA in History, minoring in Political Science. His future plans include starting his own E-business and participating more in local community projects.

Patty O’Bryan, Clerk-Typist

When Patty joined our staff last December, she brought us a wealth of customer service experience and a varied educational background. Her favorite employment, next to her present position, was working with the developmentally disadvantaged at Valley Village. Of the 187 college credits she’s amassed, she considers the Pottery course at Cal State LA the most rewarding. She’s still attending classes, currently at Pierce College. She also enjoys weight training and is an accomplished pianist. Originally from South Dakota and Iowa, Patty has been married to Tom O’Bryan for 15 years. Their crowning achievement, she says, is their 13-year-old son, Danny. Active in Church events, the family attends St. Mel’s, where Patty used to sing in the choir.

Bruce Silver, Clerk-Typist

Bruce has been with LAPL since April 2000, and says he has been “greatly enjoying the experience!” It’s an intriguing occupational shift. He’d already retired from many years in the title insurance industry, and was also a financial consultant. “How I came to LAPL,” he says, “is a story in itself.” (Once upon a time, a friend - tired of listening to him wish he were doing something more meaningful - told him that the City Library was accepting applications. He applied. Years later, LAPL called to say there was an opening at Encino-Tarzana. He accepted. When a full-time position opened at Platt, he requested a transfer. Platt accepted. Now everyone's happy.) Married for 21 years, Bruce and his wife live in North Hollywood with their two children. According to him, that’s all there is to say. His co-workers, however, want to add that he’s a consummate punster who has brightened gloomy days since he came here in April 2001.

Alicia Steffin, Library Assistant

Alicia worked for the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Transportation and other City departments for over a decade before asking to be transferred to LAPL in the late 80’s. This was a natural career move for this married mother of two. In addition to collecting Native American crafts and music, her main interests are history and children’s literature. One of Southern California’s native daughters, Alicia graduated from Valley College and attended CSUN before entering civil service. She came to Platt from Canoga Park Branch in March of 2001 and considers her current position very fulfilling. But—someday, when she retires—she wants to volunteer in a pediatric care organization where she can put her experience raising children to work helping disadvantaged babies.

Vivian Kahan Weston, Clerk-Typist (reassigned from West Valley Regional)


“Reading, reading, reading” is the passion that brought Vivian to the staff side of the checkout counter at many different kinds of libraries, including Beverly Hills Municipal and libraries at MIT and the University of Chicago. She’s also an avid student of history with a BA and MA from Brandeis University, a Ph.D. candidacy (Japanese history) in U. of Chicago’s History Department, and studies at Hebrew University in Israel (junior year abroad) and Rikkyo University in Japan (cultural exchange). Maybe someday, she says, she’ll complete her Doctorate; for the moment, however, she’d rather stay with LAPL. Vivian began substituting at Valley branches 6 years ago. Last March, she accepted a part-time position at West Valley. She’s the mother of two “wonderful” children, Audrey (in college) and Noah (in high school), and is owned by two cats.

To be continued. In the next issue we'll meet Platt’s new librarians.

Library Improvements

Patty O'Bryan demos drawers.

Senior Librarian Jan Metzler has asked the Friends of Platt Library to undertake a special project. She requested that we spend funds to improve library plant facilities. The reasoning behind her request was three-fold: 1) Inoperable or missing equipment needed replacement. 2) More library shelving and storage was necessary for the extremely large quantities of request books awaiting pick up by patrons. 3) Workroom improvement was required for increased staffing.

The Board has authorized and accomplished a number of purchases to meet Jan Metzler’s request. A new computer printer, fax machine, and microwave have been installed. An additional freestanding bookcase, two rolling storage carts with drawers and shelves, and a rolling typewriter table were purchased for the staff workroom. Late in October, cabinetry shelving and pullout drawer storage was added to the interior of the library at the Circulation and Reference Desks. Directional signage was also provided for line posts at the Circulation Desk and to direct patrons to the self-checkout station.

Next the Friends will recover library chairs. Currently, two of the chairs have had to be removed because of extreme damage.

In addition, the Friends of Platt continue to provide on-going funds for the purchase of new books, audio books, and other media for checkout. It is due to your faithful support through membership and donation of used books that we are able to accomplish these goals. We sincerely thank you.

Millie Berger, President

Friends Help the Community

Thanks to an urgent request from our Children’s Librarian, Vicki Migliori, Friends volunteers went to Hamlin Street School last September. Over a two-week period, the Friends helped to reestablish the school library with new books donated through special funds from the L. A. City Schools. Subsequently, the school was awarded a Wonder of Reading Grant, which will provide a new library facility. The Friends were gratified to help Hamlin and it’s librarian, Najma Hussain, in their efforts to obtain the grant.

Thanks go to Millie Berger, Eileen Bernfeld, Elaine Corman, Frona & Stan DeCovnick, Donna Harnett, Darris Reilly, Paula Russo, Sharon Schuster, Harriet Strauss, and Michelle Watts.

Harriet Strauss, Past President

Jester’s Mom Delights Old & Young Alike

Barbara Saltzman with Adult Librarian (and poster artist) Sherry Van Sickle.

With dramatic flair, Barbara Saltzman—“The Jester’s Mom”—captivated all assembled for our October 20th General Meeting.

Setting the tone of her presentation with visual displays of The Jester and Pharley, Mrs. Saltzman first told the story of her son’s inspiration to write his book, The Jester Has Lost His Jingle. Then her animated reading of the tale itself made us giggle and guffaw.

We learned about the trials she encountered publishing the book and how she came to establish The Jester and Pharley Phund to benefit sick and disadvantaged children. Through Mrs. Saltzman’s many visits to libraries, schools, and hospitals, The Jester has spread his message to large audiences throughout the United States. It was an inspiring afternoon. Platt’s Friends and patrons were truly delighted by the opportunity to hear Mrs. Saltzman and receive the joy of the book.

Frona DeCovnick, Program Chairman

The Friends of the Platt Library Newsletter is produced and maintained by Hearn/Perrell Art Associates. Editor: Therese Hearn
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