Coming Events
   Adult & Youth
 •Annual Report

 Special Sale

Get Involved
 •How to Join


      •   •   •  
Visit the South Pasadena Public Library
1100 Oxley St.
South Pasadena
California, 91030

 SPPL logo


•  Up Coming Events   Up Coming Youth Programs

•  News

     •    Dana Gioia - California Poet Laureate
  Leo Politi Bronze Sculpture unveiled
    •     "Golden State Collection" grows -see new titles
    •   Measure L Passes - Thank You South Pasadena
   Library Park Guided Tree Walk
is Established

    •   Beverly Engler

•  Friends Newsletter
Annual Report 2015                                                      
        updated 4-13-2016



The 20th

Begins with

SEPTEMBER 18, 2016
4:00 p.m.


Read more




Read more


                                   The following youth programs have been funded in full or in part by the Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library



If fractions have you flummoxed, algebra makes you allergic, history has you hysterical, or long division leaves you dazzled, the South Pasadena Public Library can help you with its online tutoring service.

From any Web-enabled computer in the library or at home, a student can click on the Live Homework Help link on the library's Web site at www.cityofsouthpasadena.us/library and engage in controlled online chat with a math, English, science or social studies expert. Students and tutors can also work on an interactive white board, share educational Web sites and send files back and forth for a rewarding learning exchange

Funded by grants from the Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library and the Library Services and Technology Act, the Live Homework Help from Tutor.com has assisted nearly 4,000 South Pasadena students over the past few years.

A History Night presentation entitled “The Darkest Night—The Destruction and Rebirth of Pasadena’s Chinatown”, with local historian and professional journalist Matt Hormann, will be presented in the Community Room on Thursday, April 28 at 7:00 p.m.
The program will focus on Pasadena’s Chinatown and the frightful events in 1885 that caused the displacement of the Chinese residents of Pasadena. The program, also featuring a slide show of historical photos and newspaper articles, will also showcase an audience Q&A with Mr. Hormann. The free program is presented by the South Pasadena Public Library, the South Pasadena Chinese American Club, and the Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library. Recently Matt Hormann gave a similar presentation for the Chinese  Historical Society of Southern California that was extremely well received.
Historians --and even the journalists of the time—differ on some of the minor details of what exactly happened the night of November 6, 1885. Nevertheless, the major facts are clear. The ordeal began with a dropped cigar and culminated with threats of mass violence. And over the course of the next 24 hours, enraged racists drove Pasadena’s 60 to 100 Chinese residents from the city.
Comparative Pictures
of the Ruins of Pasadena Chinatown in 1885 with the same location in 2016
At a time when anti-Chinese sentiment was at its height, locals were looking for almost any excuse to drive the Chinese out of Pasadena according to Hormann. About 100 men, a quarter or so of the entire population of Pasadena, participated in the riot, yet no one was ever charged or arrested in the case. And to this day, the names of the rioters remain unknown. The cruelty began when rumors were spread that the Chinese had started the fire. As a result, a riot was incited by a mob of white men. By the next day, the entire Chinese population of Pasadena had fled. It was a pivotal incident in the city’s early history, leading to the creation of Pasadena’s first fire department and ushering in an era of racial separation lasting for decades.
Chinese workers picking grapes on a ranch in Altadena, circa 1885

Matt Hormann is a Pasadena-based freelance writer and historian who graduated from Los Angeles County High School for the Arts and California State University. He has been writing about local history for the past seven years. During that span, his work has appeared in the Pasadena Weekly, the Argonaut newspaper, Westways magazine, American Bungalow, Hometown Pasadena, and the Sierra Madre Historical Society Newsletter. His articles have focused on such topics as the real-life detective who tracked Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, the suffragist who went undercover to investigate a lynching in a Texas town, and the rise and fall of Pasadena’s most famous rock and roll venue.

The Community Room is located at 1115 El Centro Street and doors will open at 6:30 p.m. No tickets or reservations are necessary and refreshments will be served. Special thanks to the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California and the Pasadena Weekly.
Matt’s 3600 word article “Night of Terror,” about the destruction of Pasadena’s Chinatown,
appeared in the Pasadena Weekly in November 2015 and can be found online at

(The Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library are not responsible for external web content).

Memorial Service
for Scott Van Sant on Saturday,
April 16 at 2 p.m. in Community Room


Scott Van Sant (1937-2016) was a valuable Library volunteer for 12 years. Starting in 2010 Scott was also a member of the Friends Bookstore desk staff, and he regularly picked up and hauled large book donations to the Library for the Friends. In addition, Scott served with the Friends Holiday Book Sale Committee, and helped price fine books that had been tucked away throughout each year for their annual fundraiser. Scott was also a member of South Pasadena Beautiful for 25 years. In 1980 Scott’s wife Janet became a Founding Board member of SPEF (South Pasadena Educational Foundation) and Scott actively and continually supported the highly successful organization.

Scott Van Sant was born on October 5, 1937 to Jean Scott MacMillan and Benjamin Clarke Van Sant in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He had two older siblings, Sandra and Nick, and his fraternal twin Clarke. Scott passed away peacefully on March 21, 2016. He is survived by his brother, Clarke Van Sant, his three children - Toni Clevenger, Michelle Van Sant Chamberlain, and Michael Van Sant, as well as four grandchildren - Kai, Audrey, Caitlin, and Christopher. Scott moved to Altadena at the age of 7 with his mother and siblings. He attended John Muir High School in Pasadena.

Scott and his wife Janet Stephanie Van Sant moved to South Pasadena in 1966 to raise their three children and it would be the place where they chose to live out the rest of their lives. Scott loved his family, the outdoors, skiing, and collecting antique clocks. A public memorial service is planned for Saturday, April 16th at 2 p.m. in the Library Community Room located at 1115 El Centro Street. In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to South Pasadena Beautiful, Friends of South Pasadena Library, South Pasadena Educational Foundation, or a charity of the donor’s own choosing.

                   Dana Gioia, newly-appointed California Poet Laureate, and South Pasadena resident, appeared for a Library Author Night before an audience of about 150 on March 30 in the Community Room. Dana shared many wonderful poems from throughout his career, with lively anecdotes sprinkled in between. The audience was beyond enthusiastic.

The event was presented by the South Pasadena Public Library, the Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library, and (SPARC) South Pasadena Arts Council. It was the fourth time the Library and the Friends have presented the California Poet Laureate to full house audiences in the last nine years. Previously, Al Young appeared twice with Suezenne Grants Chamber Jazz, and Juan Felipe Herrera (now Poet Laureate of the United States) performed his bilingual poetry magic.

Posted 4-6-2016    ...

The South Pasadena Public Library has added a
newly cast bronze Leo Politi sculpture:
"Sister Reading Book to Brother with Dog
Looking On"
that will henceforth adorn its
Oxley Street entrance between its two main doors.

It was officially unveiled in a brief ceremony on
March 6 at 1:30 p.m. outside the Library's Oxley Street
main entrance. Congresswoman Judy Chu, Senator Carol Liu,
and Mayor Diana Mahmud offered their eloquent remarks.
Council members Robert S. Joe and Richard D. Schneider, M.D.
were also present, along with Ed Pearson, President of the
Library Board of Trustees, and about 20 others.


The sculpture was commissioned from Lester Harries of Sanger, California with funds donated from the Discretionary Funds of Members of the South Pasadena City Council, Ellen & Joe Daigle, and Library Trustee Andy Lipmann. The sculpture installation project is a continuation of the Library's Celebration of the lasting Artistic Legacy of famed California Artist Leo Politi.

Leo Politi (1908-1998), an iconic LA artist and children's book author and illustrator, also created the wonderful mural in the Library Children's Room in 1957. Leo reinvented it for the Library's expansion project in 1982 without asking for a fee. Today, it's the oldest remaining of all of Leo Politi's public murals.

Leo Politi was born in Fresno, California on November 21, 1908. When he was 6 years-old he and his family returned to Northern Italy. From his youngest days Leo was passionate about drawing and when he was only 15 he was awarded a scholarship to study for 6 years at the Royal Palace of Monza, near Milan. Leo returned to Fresno after graduation and began his literary career in 1938 with "Little Pancho", a children's book.

Over the course of the subsequent 58 years Leo Politi achieved worldwide fame as an artist, muralist, author, illustrator and wrote 20 more widely-acclaimed books. In 1950 he was honored by the American Library Association with the Caldecott Medal for "the nation's most distinguished children's picture book." Leo also painted many famous public murals, including those in Downtown Los Angeles' Olvera Street and Chinatown --and his first, in the Children's Room of the South Pasadena Public Library. Leo was accorded many other prestigious accolades during his storied career, including having a public library in his hometown named after him. A park and an elementary school in Los Angeles also bear the Leo Politi ' name. On March 26, 1996 Leo Politi passed away and his importance as an artist has only continued to grow ever since.

(l to r)
Joe Daigle, Senator Carol Liu, Congresswoman Judy Chu, Mayor Diana Mahmud, and Ellen Daigle

Posted 3-24-2016...
The Friends organization is proud that our small community has given the library the confidence vote that it deserves! South Pasadena voted overwhelmingly (80.97%) to support the vital role that Measure L plays in our library's long-term fiscal health. The Friends played an important role in the Measure L Campaign's success-both in contributing to the Measure L Campaign and in providing volunteer support for the Campaign's outreach and education. A sincere thanks to all of our Member Friends for your financial assistance, volunteer time, and for your YES VOTES!
Passage of Measure L will ensure that our library can continue to be open seven-days-a-week, provide appropriate resources and staffing, and make much-needed technological improvements, including WiFi upgrades throughout the facility and broadband, fiberoptic connectivity-an upgrade that will vastly improve digital access for both patrons and staff.

Posted 9-2015      
South Pasadena is an official Tree City U.S.A. and is nicknamed “The City of Trees.” During the Summer of 2014, author and educator Dr. Matt Ritter of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo conducted a very fascinating, well-attended Author Event in the Community Room based on his book “A Californian’s Guide to the Trees Among Us.” Afterwards he led the audience on a Tree Walk In the Library Park during which he described all 17 tree species that can be found there. The walk concluded at the Library’s magnificent Moreton Bay Fig Tree that is known as “The Library Tree.” The gigantic tree was planted by Bill Kloezeman, Sr. while South Pasadena’s Carnegie Library was being moved to the center of Library Park from its previous location nearer to Diamond Street.

A Memorial Bench honoring Beverly Engler, Friends Bookstore Co-Founder, was also recently installed overlooking The Library Tree, a spot favored by readers of all ages, children at play, teens hanging out, meditation practitioners, musicians, and many others. The beautiful bench was donated by the Engler Family. So that others can enjoy the Tree Walk and learn more about the trees in the Library Park, 17 small, descriptive signs containing both the botanical and popular names of each tree have just been installed. They were donated by the Huntington Library, Art Gallery, and Botanical Gardens and use Dr. Ritter’s tree identifications. Dr. Ritter’s Library Park Tree Walk Map will soon be posted on the South Pasadena Public Library and Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library websites.

          For a view of the "The Mighty Library Tree" please click here.
          For a PDF copy of the "Trees of the South Pasadena Library" please click here.
Posted 4-29-2015...................
The South Pasadena Rotary Club and the South Pasadena Public Library proudly continue “The Golden State Collection,” a cooperative project that has greatly expanded the Library’s collection of checkout books on California related subjects. The project partnership has continued for more than 9 years and is responsible for the addition of hundreds of new books to the Library collection.

Each Tuesday for its noon meeting in the Oneonta Church Tower Room, the service club honors its guest speaker by donating a Golden State Collection title to the Library. Each book contains a custom “Golden State Collection” bookplate that the guest speaker signs and then the already-cataloged book goes straight into the library collection. Titles purchased through the years represent a broad spectrum of books for all ages on California culture, history, geography, travel, nature, etc.

All of the Golden State books are added to the library checkout collection and some of them go right into in the front area of the Library.

· LA 2000+ New Architecture in Los Angeles

· Los Angeles Stories: Great Writers on the City

· Weston’s Westons: California and the West

· Palm Springs Modern

· Yosemite: Valley of Thunder

· Hearst Castle

· Missions of the Monterey Bay Area

· Signs from the Heart: California Chicano Murals

· Hollywood Studios

· Mt. Shasta: California’s Mystic Mountain

· Afoot & Afield in Los Angeles County

· California Cowboys

· Women of the Sierra

· Bay Bridge: History and Design of A New Icon

· They Saw the Elephant: Women in the California Gold Rush

· Images of America: San Dimas

· My City, My Los Angeles

· The Natural World of the California Indians

· Yosemite and Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks

· Californian Indian Nights

· Important Bird Areas of California

· The World Rushed In: The California Gold Rush Experience

· City of Style: Exploring Los Angeles Fashion from Bohemian to Rock

· Tales and Treasures of California Missions

· Desert Lore of Southern California

· Courthouses of California: An Illustrated History

· The Changing Range of Light: Portraits of Sierra Nevada

· Lake Tahoe: A Fragile Beauty

· Palm Springs Modern

  posted 3-18-2016......

Jane T. Cavenagh is a very spry 98 year-old who recently retired from the Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library's all-volunteer Bookstore after more than 20 years. Jane was on the Library Board of Trustees and served as President for four terms between 1993 and 1998. Jane previously taught for many years at South Pasadena Middle School, South Pasadena High School, Riverside Junior College, and UCLA. She later worked as an administrator for seven junior colleges.

Another great milestone in Jane's remarkable life occurred in 1929 when she was a 14 year- old schoolgirl. She saved a 5 year-old boy from drowning in Pirate's Cove at Laguna Beach. He was walking on the base of a steep cliff that jutted out to the ocean. After he fell, Jane picked him up and a large wave knocked them down, carrying the boy out to sea. Jane rose to her feet, waded 30 feet toward the boy, and was swept off her feet once again by choppy waves which carried the boy even farther out.

Jane at 98 with her medal


Jane at 14 with her heroism medal...
Jane swam to the youngster once again, and grasped him and swam them both back to the base of the cliff, only to have a large wave separate them again. Jane was carried out 25 feet and she saw the boy in the waves 35 feet from her. She swam to him again and carried him to the shore where his mother had fainted. The boy was unconscious, but he recovered. During her act of bravery Jane injured her back and sustained severe cuts. Soon afterwards she was awarded a medal by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission and the funds enabled her to later attend college. Jane went on to earn a B.A. and an M.A. at UCLA and was the first woman admitted to Stanford Medical School although she didn't enroll.

Longtime South Pasadena resident Beverly Engler passed away on December 27, with her family nearby, after a long battle with cancer.

Bev and her husband Mark married 57 years ago, beginning their lives together in San Francisco. They moved to South Pasadena with their children Mark, Suzanne, and Marcy in 1966.

Bev was a tireless and enthusiastic volunteer in the community, including serving as President of the Monterey Hills School PTA, a frequent PTA committee member, an active SPEF fundraiser, a Little League concession manager, and a leader within her children's Scout troops.

Bev also co-founded the Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library Bookstore, where she devoted thousands of volunteer hours over nearly 30 years. The fundraising auctions and book sales Bev helped establish and manage attracted book collectors throughout the state. She was honored for her service with a Volunteer of the Year award by the California Association of Library Trustees and Commissioners.

Bev was an avid reader, an accomplished baker, and an award winning quilter. She also enjoyed playing golf with family and friends at Oakmont Country Club. She discovered a love for travel early in life, visiting Cuba in the 1950s, and traveled to many parts of Europe and Asia with her husband and family. However, she most enjoyed the beach, and it was her annual trips to Kauai with her husband, children, and grandchildren that brought her the greatest joy.

In addition to her husband and children, Bev is survived by her daughter in law Mary, son in laws Hunter and Michael, and grandchildren Jaime, Peter, Kelly, Logan, Shelby, Haley and Whitney.

Donations may be made in her memory to the
Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library/Beverly Engler Memorial Fund.


Online quarterly newsletter

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for "Between Friends" Email Newsletter

FOL paper publication editions
2007 - 2012


Current edition

Friends Annual Report 2015  (pdf)

2007 - 2015
The South Pasadena Public Library
is located at 1100 Oxley Street
Monday through Wednesday from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm
Thursday and Friday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
Saturday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Sunday from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library • 1100 Oxley Street - South Pasadena, CA 91030
No Top of page Elizabeth Taylor Sean Connery Brigitte Bardot Humphrey Bogart William Holden Historian Matt Hormann