Libros Schmibros Lending Library and Bookshop Moves to Mariachi Plaza

Libros Schmibros Lending Library and Bookstore opened Wednesday at its new location at Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights. Photo by Kris Fortin

After two years at the corner of 1st Street and Cummings Street, Libros Schmibros Lending Library and Bookshop opened Wednesday at its new location on Mariachi Plaza, right on top of the Metro Gold Line Station.

The addition of Libros Schmibros with the already existing businesses at Mariachi Plaza has made that area one of the most human-friendly Metro-affiliated sites.

“If you visit train stations in any city in the world . . . so many of them have newsstands. And most of those newsstands don’t just sell magazines, they sell books,” said David Kipen, co-founder of Libros Schmibros.

The prime location Libros Schmibros has at Mariachi plaza is a result of the property being locally family-owned and the landlord wanting a community-focused tenant, Kipen said.

The owners of Libros Schmibros, a nonprofit that both lends books to patrons and sells books at extremely low rates, jumped almost immediately at the chance to get the property at Mariachi Plaza, said Colleen Jaurretche, Libros Schmibros’ co-director.

Though the space is smaller than the old space, the new format and location of the store lends itself to new opportunities, Kipen said. For events, groups can spill onto the plaza and not have to worry about traffic. Kipen is also working with a UCLA graduate film student to put on a Mexican film series on Mariachi Plaza, where they hope to screen a film with Pedro Infante.

The human-focused promise that continues to blossom at Mariachi Plaza is something that Metro stations, portals, and platforms have not been able to take full advantage of, said Will Wright, American Institute of Architect Los Angeles Director of Government & Public Affairs.

The Metro Redline portal at the W Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard, for example, used a design that looks like it would create community interaction, but security there will tell patrons to move if they station themselves.

Books will be stacked on opposite ends of the bookshop’s wall up to the edge of the ceiling. Photo by Kris Fortin

“If you go to Singapore, London, they’ve enabled these portals, and platforms to be more enjoyable,” said Wright. “The portals and stations are the community’s living room.”

Though the new Libros Schmibros location will open up the store to more foot traffic from the Gold Line, Libros Schmibros’ service will stay the same said Kipen, with books available in both Spanish and English, and available to Boyle Heights resident for as low as $1.00.

After being closed for one month, Libros Schmibros opened despite still settling in the new location. On Friday, one wall was completely full with books to the ceiling while the opposite wall was still waiting for some additional shelves to be installed.

Kipen hopes to maintain his current local customer base, but he also has a Los Angeles section for the curious Angeleno.

“In a place where people more and more have to ride to get to and from, it would be nice to give them something more interesting than the same ads on a Metro train to read,”

Libros Schmibros is open Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 6PM.  Libros Schmibros will also have a quasi store-opening party on April 19 when it hosts a party for publisher Heyday Books release of the “New California Writing 2012,” which Kipen wrote the introduction for.


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