If you are prone to fretting about the future of American culture, specifically about the younger generation's alleged lack of intellectual curiosity, a quick visit to the gloriously unique Boyle Heights bookstore and lending library Libros Schmibros will almost certainly put your mind at ease. The steady stream of patrons looking to cheaply buy or freely borrow from the shop's constantly evolving and absurdly eclectic stock of gently used books includes not only parents, poets, authors, fellow booksellers, local journalists, teachers, hipsters and volunteers, but, perhaps most important, teenagers. Actual teenagers actually going to a bookstore of their own volition — it's downright optimism-inducing. This fall, founder David Kipen brought his public-resource business model to a six-week pop-up residency at the Hammer, where its events, readings, curated inventory and progressive literary raucousness fit right in with the museum's Public Engagement series. But as much fun and learning as the Hammer pop-up promised, Libros Schmibros will always be rocking First & Cummings — because you can take the bibliophile out of Boyle Heights, but you can't take the Boyle Heights out of the bibliophile. 2000 E. First St., Boyle Heights. (323) 302-9408, librosschmibros.wordpress.com.
—Shana Nys Dambrot