First published in the July 22 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.
The Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library nonprofit organization is honoring its signature bookstore’s four founders this month on the occasion of the store’s 40th anniversary.
In 1982, Dorothy Cohen, Beverly Engler, Sally Swan and Margaret Wallace founded the Friends’ Bookstore on the second floor of the South Pasadena Public Library. Its purpose was to help support the library through the sales of donated used books.
Launching a bookstore that year was only possible because the library’s Oxley Street building had been significantly expanded. The “new” library opened in 1982, and its administration allocated space for the bookstore.
Anne Snyder, a longtime resident and a bookstore volunteer for nearly 25 years, recalled that before the bookstore opened, the Friends held book sales on the library lawn.
“Volunteers collected books all year for one big sale,” she said, “and this was extremely well attended.”
The bookstore took the place of the outdoor sale in 1982 and has operated continuously since then. More than $1.2 million has been raised for the library, according to reports.
The four founders have since passed away. They were honored at the bookstore’s 35th Anniversary celebration in 2017 with a plaque installed on the wall just outside the store. Two of the then-living founders — Cohen and Wallace — attended.
A 40th anniversary memorial fund has been set up for those who wish to honor the “Fabulous Four,” as the group was known. Community members can donate online in their memory at friendsofsopaslibrary.org/donate (Bookstore Founders’ Memorial Fund) or send a check made out to the fund to Memorials, Friends of the SPPL, 1100 Oxley St., South Pasadena 91030.
All donations will go to the South Pasadena Public Library.