She’s the Library’s Friend Indeed

Betty Ann Rouch stopped by the Mary Wilson Library one morning last week just to drop off some paperwork. As is typical, the president of the branch’s Friends of the Library Foundation saw some books that needed shelving, so she stayed and went to work.

With budget cuts and belt tightening, the library always needs something done, Rouch said.

As president of the Friends, Rouch leads a group of about 60 active members in a campaign to raise $40,000 and reopen the library on Mondays.

The branch is now open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from noon to 8 p.m., Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Monday hours were cut last summer when the Orange County Public Library system’s budget was slashed and losses were passed on to many of its branches.

With an $87,000 cut, Seal Beach’s Mary Wilson branch was forced to close on Mondays, while the Leisure World branch was taken over by residents.

In the two months since the Friends launched the fund-raising campaign, more than $30,000 has been collected. To reopen the facility on Mondays, Rouch said, the city will need to commit an equal amount of money every year.

“As soon as we have the money, the Orange County library system has committed to reopening the library with staff people,” Rouch said.


Rouch, 69, said she has had a lifelong love of books and reading, and she can remember her mother begging her to turn off the lights and go to sleep at night.

The 45-year Seal Beach resident passed along her passion for reading to her daughter, who earned a doctorate in history and is now a media specialist and reference librarian at Cal State San Bernardino.

“A lot of her love of books came from growing up in Seal Beach with a good library and lots of books at home,” Rouch said.