Ernest Hemingway once said, “There is no friend as loyal as a book.” In this age of computers and online resources, one could add, “there is no search engine as competent as a librarian.”

Before the days of Google and Yahoo, before paid advertisements followed you every time you sought answers using a keyboard, there were librarians. Librarians – those hard working public servants who know the answers to questions you didn’t even know to ask (or at least they know where to find those answers). And much to our great fortune our local library, El Retiro, is where you’ll find one of the most  seasoned librarians around.

Jay Spradlin has been in the business of helping people find books for more than three decades. He was a Torrance library page (the entry level position) at just 16 years old, and was mentored by a librarian who knew her patron’s preferences so well she would call them when a book came in she thought they’d enjoy.

Jay has been at El Retiro Library for almost a dozen years, where he specializes in youth services overseeing children’s collections and programming

Parents of young children are probably familiar with El Retiro’s popular Toddlertime, where Jay reads stories to youngsters and leads them in songs. Older children are drawn to the library for the summer reading program as well as after school events held year round. Jay oversees the ordering of nearly 1,000 new books each year for children and youths.

El Retiro is equally loved by adults, both for its collection of books, magazines, movies and CDs as well as its public computers and book discussion groups. The library was built in 1958 and has undergone at least two expansions and renovations, including one in 2009 to provide new seismic shelving, wireless internet and more.

Over the years, The Riviera Garden Club has overseen landscaping in front of the library, in addition to the painting of a colorful mural completed in 2014.

Next to the library, El Retiro Park is situated on 4.78 acres of land – formerly used as a tree nursery — acquired in parcels from 1945- 1950. A youth center was built in 1960 with money donated by the Hollywood Riviera Rotary Club.

Today, the park features two recreation buildings (one with a kitchen), lighted tennis courts, play equipment, a rotunda, a picnic area with barbecues, a small softball field, a basketball court and restrooms.

Stop by and enjoy our community treasures, El Retiro Library and park: 126 Vista del Parque, Redondo Beach.

The library is open Monday – Thursday from 11 am – 9pm and Saturday from 10am – 5pm.

Phone: 310-375- 0922.

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