Antonio Dell'Acqua, who lives next door to the Studio City library, is something akin to a guardian angel.
Although he does not often use the library because his favorite periodicals are usually checked out, Dell'Acqua keeps close watch on goings-on there. When parking lot lights are broken, he calls the librarian. If someone questionable is loitering, he alerts authorities.
And in a costly display of dedication, Dell'Acqua has agreed to sell the city a vacant lot he owns next to the library for about $1 million--about half its appraised value, city officials announced Saturday. The land will provide the crowded facility with 19,000 square feet for a much-needed expansion.
"Money isn't everything. I can only eat three meals a day--I don't need six," he said Saturday after a brief ceremony called by city councilmen Michael Woo and Joel Wachs to announce the sale.
"He could have gotten a lot more money for this," Woo said to a group of 40 library patrons. "Here we have a property owner who has the best interest of the community at heart. Future generations of Studio City residents are going to benefit because of the compassion and patience of Mr. Dell'Acqua."
Librarian Ann Maupin said, "It seems like a miracle, in these days of straightened finances that something like this could happen." Of the 63 branches of the Los Angeles County Public Library system, the Studio City library has the 15th-highest circulation but is the third-smallest.
Dell'Acqua, 69, said his sense of duty to the library is rooted in family history. His family, which once owned a 40-acre parcel of land in the neighborhood, sold the plot where the library now stands to the city. His son and daughter both used the facility while growing up.
"I see all the little kids coming in here every day, with their parents and their teachers. We need the library because we've got to get the kids away from TV. But parents can't afford to buy every little book that comes out," said Dell'Aqua, who worked as an assistant to the developer to whom he sold family land.
The money to purchase the land will come from city parking meter funds pooled by Woo, Wachs and Councilman John Ferraro. Parking meter funds are distributed to council members to use in their districts as they choose. Without the reduced land price, council members said the land purchase was unlikely.
The time line for the expansion, however, is still uncertain. Plans for the new wing have not been drafted and construction funds still must be secured. Neighborhood residents said they will plan a fund-raising campaign. In the meantime, the lot will serve as a city parking lot.