The Cambrian

Funding deadline for new library nearing

A front-and-center issue at some recent Cambria meetings has been how local citizens can raise $450,000 in 11 months to complete a deal with the county for the town’s new library and community hub.

The issue’s to be on the table again Wednesday, Feb. 15, as Supervisor Bruce Gibson and others continue to make their case once again before the North Coast Advisory Council (6:30 p.m., Rabobank, 1070 Main St.).

Greg Fitzgerald, chief fundraiser for Friends of the Cambria Library, is to explain how Cambria’s new library eventually will differ from, and be so much better than, the current facility, especially in terms of technological advances and sheer elbow room.

County Administrative Officer Jim Grant is to explain library funding and the county budget.

“We need to expand the vision of what a library is,” Gibson said Feb. 2 at a Friends board meeting. “Today’s library is more than a warehouse for books. It’s where a community comes together and where information is exchanged,” with guidance from librarians trained to alert patrons about the right shelf, book, DVD or Website to fill their needs, and how to use them all.

Gibson’s also been working the Cambria service-club circuit. Also on Feb. 2, he gathered together representatives of Cambria’s Rotary clubs, the Chamber of Commerce, Lions Club, Scenic Coast Board of Realtors, and the Friends, so all could brainstorm about how to entice people to contribute now.

Participants agreed to meet again in two weeks to take the next steps toward that goal.

The back story

The county bought the building at 1043 Main St. in 2009 for $2.8 million, and expects to spend another million-plus or so to complete interior architectural plans and convert the empty building into a fully functional library.

County library policy is that community members must donate half the cost of any new facilities. Supervisors agreed to credit the Friends group with its share of the value (50 percent each) of a potential library site it helped to buy and the current library building, along with the nearly $1 million already raised toward the nonprofit’s local match.

“They’ve done an amazing job,” Gibson said.

A $4 million agreement between the county and the local nonprofit is set to expire at the end of 2012, at which point the 5,800 square foot structure would revert to being just another county building rather than Cambria’s long-sought newer, larger, more up-to-date library.

Nobody wants that to happen.

Now, Gibson and others are urging, reminding, nagging, pushing, and cajoling everyone, from individuals and corporations to organizations and grant funders, to donate now, donate again, dig deep and help find other monies.