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LAGUNA BEACH : Friends of Library Save the Day by Funding Extra Hours

With a little help from its Friends, the Laguna Beach Library has come up with enough money to open six days a week.

Book lovers suffered a bruising blow when state budget cuts two years ago forced the city’s only library to reduce its operating schedule to only four days a week. A fifth day was added last year, and now Friends of the Laguna Beach Library has raised enough money to operate Monday through Saturday, beginning Jan. 2.

With funding increasingly shaky in recent years, Laguna Beach’s dedication is heartening, said John M. Adams, librarian of the Orange County Public Library system. “Laguna Beach is the first location where the Friends group has raised the funds for the additional hours,” he said. “I think it’s outstanding and extremely encouraging to all of us in the library that residents are coming forward to support library services.”

Laguna Beach Library is one of 27 in the county system. It was open six days a week until mid-1993, when state funding cutbacks lopped off two days, Adams said.

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Earlier this year, the Orange County Board of Supervisors considered a proposal that would have closed six branches countywide while allowing the remaining branches, including Laguna Beach, to operate six days a week, Adams said.

The board chose instead to keep all branches open. Laguna Beach Library was allowed to add a fifth day, but not the sixth, to its schedule.

Residents rallied to the cause, said Martha Lydick, president of Friends of the Library, by giving in a variety of ways, one of the most visible being the ceramic money tree created by resident Beverly Mosier.

For giving money, residents may add an ornament to the tree: for $50, a small leaf with the giver’s name engraved on it; for $750, a bluebird.

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The city must spend $40,000 annually to add one day of library service a week, Lydick said. So far, the group has raised $20,000 for 1996, she said, and will continue to seek residents’ support to maintain the six-day schedule.

The money tree is now a fixture, Lydick said, a symbol of what the library means to the community.

“It’ll be there forever,” she said. “One of the problems with libraries is they’re taken for granted. . . . They’re easy to take for granted until you start losing them.”


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