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At El Monte’s New Lending Library, The Focus Is On Authors Of Color

Two people with glasses stand in front of a few bookshelves lined up against a yellow wall.
Andrew Fung Yip and Amy J. Wong, the owners of Matilija Lending Library in El Monte.
(Daniel Ruiz-Camacho
Courtesy of Matilija Lending Library)
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Boyle Heights has Libros Schmibros. Pomona has Cafe con Libros. Now El Monte has the Matilija Lending Library, which opened over the weekend on Lexington Avenue.

The library — run entirely by volunteers — has a catalog of more than 1,500 books and includes a mix of fiction and nonfiction, with more than 400 titles just for kids. The collection, which you can explore online, also puts an emphasis on stories for and by people of color.

Matilija Lending Library co-founder Amy J. Wong said she envisioned a shared space in the San Gabriel Valley that was focused on empowering the community.

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"We have the most unique community here in the San Gabriel Valley, with the majority Latino and Asian community, and yet, we rarely see spaces that center us ... folks of color," Wong said.

As part of their research, Wong said she and fellow co-founder Andrew Fung Yip visited several bookstores and other lending libraries in L.A. County and found there wasn’t anything in the area quite like the model offered by Libros Schmibros or Cafe con Libros.

"We wanted this lending library model so that folks can enjoy these books for free,” she said, “but also continue coming back and making sure that they stay connected with us, with folks they meet here, and come back for the events that we host.”

The Matilija Lending Library is open on Fridays from 3 - 7 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m.

  • 3571 Lexington Avenue, ​​El Monte, CA 91731
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