Library Shmibrary

Libros Schmibros receives colorful makeover for Los Angeles's Boyle Heights space

Inside of Libros Shmibros. (Courtesy of RADAR)

Across the street from the beloved Mariachi Plaza Station, set in a storefront of the iconic Boyle Hotel built in 1889, is a lending library that has been cheerfully serving the Boyle Heights community of Los Angeles since 2010. Founded by bibliophiles David Kipen and Colleen Jaurretche, Libros Schmibros was founded in response to the unfortunate closure of a local library, with a desire to offer “low or no-cost books into all hands, native and immigrant, Eastside and West.”

Exterior of a brick building

Exterior of Libros Schmibros (Courtesy of RADAR)

When moving to their new location last year, Kipen and Jaurretche hired local firm RADAR (Rachel Allen Development Architecture Research) to design their interior as economically as possible. With the limited funds, RADAR focused its design budget on a wall-sized bookshelf visible from the street, complete with a playful “skyline” silhouette distinguished by sunset colors and a contrasting library ladder, as well as an equally colorful set of papel picado banners strewn overhead. The subtraction in the middle of the bookshelf makes room for a preexisting window and a projector, which has already been used for presentations and roundtable events. The design for the 800-square-foot space, according to the firm, reflects a “bold presence, openness to the community, and optimism about the future of the city.”

Related Stories