Sadly, 2023 was a rather somber year for independent media. Announcements proclaiming another independent press had been shut down, another newspaper was bought out, or another media company was laying off journalists seemed to surface daily. So when the cofounders of Angel City Press, Paddy Calistro and Scott McAuley, said they were retiring from the publishing house they had operated for over three decades, it just felt like another glum casualty of the 2023 literary world.

However, the Los Angeles-based institution had a pleasant surprise in store. A truly unprecedented turn of events revealed that Angel City Press—the publisher well-known for its celebration of L.A.’s iconic cultural history—has, indeed, been acquired by the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL).

LAPL, which is the nation’s fifth-largest public library system, announced the acquisition of the press on December 16th. Moving forward, the acquisition, which happened via donation by Calistro and McAuley, will be known as Angel City Press at the Los Angeles Public Library.

With eight books already in the pipeline for 2024, Angel City Press is on pace as it usually puts out five to eight works annually. To help guarantee some continuity under the new acquisition, Terri Accomazzo, the editorial director who started with the press as an intern in 2007 and has held the position full-time since 2018, will continue in her role. Calistro spoke on the development, saying, “I really can’t believe that it’s happening because it’s so right.”

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The LAPL currently manages 73 branches housing over 8 million books and has recently become even more aggressive by expanding its special collections. However, acquiring an entire press raises the system to a never-before-seen level. John F. Szabo, who has served as the city librarian of L.A. since 2012, called the achievement a unique step for any public library system. He said, “I am not all aware of an independent publisher becoming part of a public library anywhere in the country.” Szabo has been a librarian for over 30 years and has served under three different mayors.

Nevertheless, the LAPL is not the first library system with its own press. In 2016, the New York Public Library sprung its own press that publishes five books annually, and the Library of Congress Publishing Office also puts out its own titles via the Library of Congress Books program. Speaking on the acquisition, Calistro said, “The reason that this has made sense from the beginning is that the missions of the two entities are the same.” He continued, “We have always wanted to preserve the history of Los Angeles and get people to read about it, and that’s what the library does.”

Angel City Press has made enormous contributions to L.A.’s cultural history since it was first founded in 1992 in Santa Monica. Throughout the years, the press has published such influential books as Hollywood du Jour: Lost Recipes of Legendary Hollywood Haunts by Betty Goodwin and Becoming Los Angeles: Myth, Memory, and a Sense of Place by D.J. Waldie.

Although the acquisition is current news and has been in the works for approximately two years, the relationship between Angel City Press and the LAPL goes back much further. The two entities initially partnered in 2013 to publish Josh Kun’s Songs in the Key of Los Angeles. This propelled Kun to create a trilogy, which concluded in 2019.

Additionally, Angel City has even published a book by Arnold Schwartzman and Stephen Gee titled Los Angeles Central Library: A History of Its Art and Architecture, a book about the LAPL itself. According to Szabo, “We’re committed to preserving L.A. history, and we get excited about telling untold stories of Los Angeles and Angelenos. That’s very much what Angel City Press has done through their publishing of very high-quality, well-researched books with wonderful authors.”