It's a quiet morning at the Shell Beach Public Library, a cozy, 930-square-foot space tucked into a corner of this tight-knit community.
From the street on Leeward Avenue, a lit “open” sign cuts through the overcast, gray morning.
Inside, books are neatly stacked on the shelves, separated into sections — mystery, “teen zone,” large print, fiction, kids, DVDs — and library assistant Michele Holland, who moved from Utah to start this job about five months ago, is getting ready for another, temporary move.
For the next few months, she’ll work out of the Arroyo Grande branch while the city of Pismo Beach undertakes a remodeling project of the Shell Beach Veterans Community Building, which shares the facility with the Shell Beach library.
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The library will be closed Thursday until November. An opening date has not been set, but it will likely involve a celebration party, South County Regional librarian Rosalyn Pierini said.
The Pismo Beach City Council in June approved a $312,397 contract for improvements at the Shell Beach veterans hall, the Pismo Beach Veterans Memorial Hall on Bello Street, and at City Hall on Mattie Road. The City Hall building will get a new roof and exterior paint, and both veterans buildings will receive new interior paint, among other improvements.
In addition, one shared wall between the Shell Beach library and the veterans hall will be pushed back into the hall to give the library more space.
“You notice when you come in that it's very tight and narrow in here,” Pierini said. “There’s a lot of congestion by the self-check station and the manager’s desk.”
The improvements will open up the room, giving visitors a more pleasing first impression of the library, she said.
“I have all kinds of ideas,” Holland said about her future plans for the space. “Making more of a sitting area so people can enjoy the library. Moving the fiction up front, instead of all the way in the back.”
She also wants to add new programs, such as story time or computer classes, and continue to get the word out about the library. The Shell Beach branch was established in 1949, but some locals are just finding it.
It was expanded in 2002 from 430 square feet to its current size, which is more than double the space. About 500 library card holders are registered at the Shell Beach branch (though cards can be used at any public library in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties).
The Shell Beach library currently offers a summer reading program and monthly tea time “bring your own book” discussions (one will be held Wednesday at 4 p.m.)
"I just want to make it more user-friendly and get more people in here," Holland said. She added, "Most people are excited that it's going to be bigger and that the city cares about their library."