By Bill Bruns
Palisades News Adviser
Thanks to an unexpected, six-figure bequest, the Friends of the Palisades Library board is finalizing plans to build a bookstore for quality used books in a vacant space at the branch library on Alma Real.
Designed by local architect Rick Leslie, AIA, the 1,100-sq.-ft. store (slightly larger than the former Village Books on Swarthmore) will fill a triangular open space between the library’s teen section and the children’s section. The entrance door will be just beyond the checkout desk, directly below the existing neon artwork.
“This store will give us a cozy, much larger area to sell our enormous stock of books, compared to our current space on the back patio side of the library,” said Friends board member Wendy Edlen, who has overseen the group’s parking-lot book sales for more than 30 years.
“Thanks to generous, ongoing book donations from local residents, we can keep our new store well-stocked throughout the year and greatly increase our income from these sales,” Edlen said.
In fiscal year 2015-16, the Friends bookstore and parking-lot sales brought in $30,471, all of which was donated to the branch library to help pay for new books, CDs and DVDs. Membership donations ($19,084) helped support various library programs, a computer consultant for patrons and landscaping/maintenance costs.
Leslie’s architectural plans are currently working their way through the L.A. Public Library system for final approval, and then must be approved by the city’s Planning Department.
The whole process began in September 2014, when Rhode Island resident Nancy Jamison came to the library and asked for help to clean out the books stashed in the home of her father, Col. Lewis (“Punch”) Jamison, and her stepmother, Jimmy Mitchell, who had lived on Erskine Street for many years. The elder Jamison was moving out of the house following his wife’s death that August, and his daughter told Edlen that Jimmy loved the local library and the Friends would be receiving a donation from her estate.
“Little did we know that the bequest would enable us to build a nice bookstore at the library,” said Edlen, who has a large storage room stuffed with boxes and boxes of excellent used books that currently have to wait for shelf space in the tiny patio book-store and for quarterly parking-lot sales.
Architect Leslie, who has been working on the plans and the approval process since last March, told the News that while attending the Pratt Institute, he designed a large bookstore in Woodstock, New York, in 1968—a year before the town became famous for its festival.
His current project will blend in seamlessly with the library building, retaining the six wall windows while adding 10 skylights in the 12-ft.-high space. “We wanted the store to fit in and feel part of the existing library, by bridging the two roofs,” Leslie said. “And we wanted to keep it fairly simple so construction doesn’t interfere with daily activity in the library.”
The Friends hope to have their project approved before summer.
Nancy Jamison e-mailed the Palisades News on January 26 and provided photos and biographical information about her father and Jimmy Mitchell, a prominent model and later an interior designer. (This material will be featured in an upcoming issue.)
Jamison noted,“Jimmy was an avid reader and regular visitor to the Palisades Library during her 34 years in the Palisades. She loved the library and would be very proud to see the continued work of the library and its plans for her gift.”