In 1982, the Morro Bay Library outgrew its space — a converted pool hall at 410 Morro Bay Blvd. — so its friends built a new facility at 625 Harbor Blvd.
In 2013, history is repeating itself and, indeed, the Morro Bay Friends of the Library have renewed ambition.
Board President Robert Fuller Davis told me how Morro Bay residents rallied together for a common cause:
“In 1982, then Assistant Librarian Jude Sanner (Long) struck up aconversation at the circulation desk with fellow Los Osan, John Kim. Noticing the clutter of overflowing materials, he offered to build a new structure. Long was quick to connect him with the Morro Bay Friends of the Library. With a handshake, Kim challenged Don and Jane Bailey to raise $125,000.
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“Grace Melton took charge of raising the money and in-kind community and business contributions. The Baileys provided public relations and coordinated political support from Mayor Warren Dorn and the City Council. Kim was a master getting business owners and contractors to donate or discount their labor and materials.
“The entire city participated. Restaurants brought workers hot lunches. Barbers cut workers’ hair for free. Morro Bay gas stations discounted their prices for anyone working on the library. The California Conservation Corps donated free labor for rough framing. Supervisor Bill Coy made sure the county supplied the extras to make an empty building a library. Kim brought the 6,500-squarefoot project in on time and on budget at $19.23 per square foot. Thus, Bailey and Melton insisted the community room be named the John Kim Room.”
Fast forward to 2013.
Retired Branch Manager Emeritus Jude Long is still working with decisionmakers to unify the interior space and fulfill the Friends of the Library’s mission: a library that is welcoming, open, flexible, inclusive, technologically current and reflective of our community.
Davis said the current plan increases usable interior space for materials display by about 30 percent, upgrades the children’s area and adds a quiet teen corner, a small group meeting room and a new entry. The new library will be Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant and atmospherically pleasing with upgraded ventilation, flooring and lighting.
Book sales and donations have generated $300,000 toward a projected budget of $483,000. The Friends of the Library hope the community will rally again to raise the rest.
“Free public libraries are the foundation of liberty and democracy,” Davis said. “Circulating books, newspapers, magazines, movies and music transport the ideas that support democracy and keep freedom alive.”
On Sunday, April 14, from 2 to 4 p.m., Shana Reiss of Reiss Design Studio will present the new library design plan at a community reception. Children are welcome, and local businesses have donated raffle items, including original art pieces.
For more information, visit http://www.mbfol.org.
Judy Salamacha’s column is special to The Tribune. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 801-1422.