About Us

Our Mission, Our Board, Our Annual Report

The Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library, Inc, (501(c)3 Non-Profit Corporation, Tax ID 23-7292743) was first formed by concerned citizens in 1950.  Today, more than 700 Friends help to maintain our library's role as a cornerstone of community life.

We use our membership fees and donations to purchase digital materials and to supplement the traditional catalog.  We also make possible dozens of programs offered to the community each year including author nights, film screenings, cultural events, and musical and theatrical performances.  In addition we are a major underwriter for the annual Summer Reading Program which serves approximately 2000 children of the community for free. In addition, we sponsor the completely self-financed Restoration Concert Series.


Friends Non-Discrimination Policy

The Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library, Inc. does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations. These activities include, but are not limited to, selection of volunteers and vendors, and provision of services. We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members, volunteers, subcontractors, vendors, clients, and the public.

Meet our Board of Directors

Ellen Torres, President

As a lifelong resident of South Pasadena, the library has always been a central part of Ellen’s life.  As an active community volunteer, she is a passionate advocate for the library.  She has served on the Friends board in different capacities for the past 10 years.  Ellen has developed a strong sense of devotion for the nonprofit sector and has held leadership positions with several not- for- profit organizations. Ellen has been married for 44 years and is the proud mother to four adult children who spent many wonderful hours visiting the South Pasadena library.


Lela Bissner, Executive Vice President

Lela Bissner was born in San Francisco and since the age of 15 has made South Pasadena her home   Lela married Harold Bissner (architect) at the American Embassy in Tokyo.  Lela and Harold spent the next 44 years working and traveling the world together. Throughout the years, Lela has assisted and served in official capacities in many civic non-profit organizations, including 12 years with Women Involved in South Pasadena Political Action (WISPPA) (President for two years), a commissioner on the South Pasadena NREC Commission, 10 years as a member and Chair of the Women’s Civic League, 25 years as a member and two year President of South Pasadena Beautiful, and 11 years as a member of the League of Women Voters. Lela was also a docent at the Huntington Library and is a member of the Shakespeare Club. Lela’s career was as a paralegal at the well recognized firm of Munger, Tolles and Olson for 20 years.


Vivian Lu, Vice President & CFO

Vivian is currently a freelance accountant and has worked in corporate accounting for more than 20 years.  She moved to Virginia from Shanghai, China, along with her husband and son in 2013.  Vivian moved to South Pasadena in 2015. Her son is a graduate of the South Pasadena School system.


Karen Weinstock, Vice President & EMFO


Karen became a regular visitor to the South Pasadena Library when she moved here over 20 years ago. After serving for several years on the boards of the local PTAs, Karen found a new home on the Friends' Board as EVP of Endowments and Memorials. Not long after that she became a co-chair of the Friends' Bookstore and help to manage and oversee the many volunteers that share in the enjoyment of running the bookstore, whose sales provide much of the Friends' revenue that supports a variety of Library programs and services.


Kristen Dube, Restoration Concerts Financial Officer


As a life-long resident, Kristen’s appreciation for reading and especially for the South Pasadena Public Library began at the knee of Viola Sirolos, the much beloved children's librarian in the 1960's.  She has been proud to volunteer for the Friends bookstore and serve on the Friends board in various capacities over the past 20+ years.  Kristen currently serves as Restoration Concerts Finance Officer and looks forward to helping shape the future of this community icon.


Sue Endacott, Secretary


Sue was raised in South Pasadena and participated in the Summer Reading Programs growing up.  She has fond memories of Viola Sirolas, the children's librarian in the 1960's.  Sue and her husband were fortunate to raise their family here and her daughters also participated in many library programs.  Her family loves the South Pasadena Library and are thankful for its many programs and services. Sue looks forward to serving as Secretary with the Friends to continue to support our wonderful library. 


Karen Sima, Vice President Membership


Karen has been a resident of South Pasadena since 1982 when she married her husband who is an attorney.  Her two grown daughters live in the Bay Area and work in tech. Karen enjoyed her job at Marengo Elementary School as a Reading Specialist for over 20 years. She is now retired and is enjoying volunteering for the Friends of the Library for the great city of South Pasadena.


Sally Kilby, Communications Director


Sally is beginning her 4th year on the Friends' Board. She is a former city clerk of the City of South Pasadena and a writer for the South Pasadena Review. She has worked at an index to nursing literature and two medical libraries.


Karen Bell, Bookstore Chair


Karen joined the Board of the Friends of the Library in 2021, after retiring from a teaching career. She wanted to give her time and energies to the South Pasadena library as a tribute to her father, who taught her to cherish reading and public libraries. Karen is co-chair of the Friends of the Library Bookstore, which raises approximately $40,000 per year for the library.


Laurie Astle, Restoration Concerts Chair


Laurie raised her four children in South Pasadena.  Her volunteer involvement includes, PTA (22 yrs), Special Olympics, SPEF, Girl Scout leader, Cub Scout leader, S.P. Chamber of Commerce and as a leader in Church Youth organization.  She is currently involved in South Pasadena Prayer Breakfast Committee and is a leader in a church women's organization. Laurie owns an Interior Design business and manages residential properties. She is a proud grandmother to five grandchildren.  Laurie is currently serving as Co-Chair of the Restorations Concert Series, a committee of the Friends.

2019 Annual Report

Final 2019 FOL Annual Report Cover Ltr.pdf