Living Here Guide

Unassuming Grover Beach Community Library leaves a lasting impact

Carol Roberts, center, is the secretary of the Grover Beach Community Library board of directors. With her are board member Barbara Nicolls, left, and librarian Megan Maxwell-Smith.
Carol Roberts, center, is the secretary of the Grover Beach Community Library board of directors. With her are board member Barbara Nicolls, left, and librarian Megan Maxwell-Smith. ldickinson@thetribunenews.com

The Grover Beach Community Library sits in a small, unassuming beige building nestled between a residential neighborhood and busy Ramona Garden Park, but inside is a monument to what a community can accomplish when residents set their minds to a task.

“There’s just a willingness among the volunteers there to show up and do whatever it takes to get stuff done,” librarian Megan Maxwell-Smith said. “And also there’s a commitment to having a community place where people can come together and read.”

The library opened in 2004, after several years of planning and work by residents who wanted to bring a library back to Grover Beach. In 1980, the San Luis Obispo County branch in town closed and was consolidated with a larger, regional library in Arroyo Grande. Grover Beach philanthropist Clifford Clark and his late wife, Mary Lee Clark, spearheaded the campaign to open an independent nonprofit library, and have been notable donors throughout its more than 10 years of operation.

“I think this is a small town with a sense of itself,” library board secretary Carol Roberts said of the early efforts to get the library started. “Here, community action happens. It works.”

The library is run by volunteers and funded through donations and book sales.

Because of a generous donation from the Clarks several years ago, the library occupies its building rent free, meaning all of its funds go to either pay maintenance or utility costs, as well as buying new books for certain areas of the library, such as the recently expanded teen/young adult section.

One characteristic of the library is that its stock is always changing.

Every time the library runs out of room for new books (which is often) the volunteers conduct a purge, reviewing what’s on the shelves and removing many books that haven’t been checked out in the past two years. That keeps their offerings fresh and up to date, unlike other libraries where decades-old tomes can dominate the shelves.

The library has for the most part stayed out of the digital age, and instead focuses on a more old-school approach sans computers — the books even still have traditional checkout cards inside their front cover that librarians stamp when you check a book out.

In all aspects, the Grover Beach Community Library is a symbol of what it means to live in Grover Beach, Roberts said.

“That’s small town, and I think that’s what so appealing to Grover Beach,” she said. “We have that going for us more than the other Five Cities. They’re good, but we’re better.”

GROVER BEACH

Population: 13,397

Key employers:

• Vons

• Papich Construction Co., Inc.

• Voler Store

• California Fine Wire Co.

• City of Grover Beach

Community events:

• Sizzlin’ Summer Concert Series and Farmers Market, June-September, 2016

• Dune Run-Run and Stone Soup Music Festival Street Faire, Aug. 27-28, 2016

• Holiday Parade and Santa’s Workshop Art & Craft Faire, Holiday Tree Lighting, December, 2016

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