Friends of the Library: Cash in on overdue book amnesty

Three days remain to take advantage of an amnesty for overdue books offered by the Orange County Public Libraries, including the three branches in Costa Mesa. Through Sunday, OCPL branches will offer borrowers a chance to clear their accounts by waiving fines for all late books and materials.

With the start of the new school year, students will need to use library materials for reading and homework assignments. Returning overdue books on Friday, Saturday and Sunday will ensure that they are able to check out more library materials. All 34 OCPL branches are participating in this program.


Upcoming programs

The Friends of the Library Book Club will discuss "Major Pettigrew's Last Stand" by Helen Simonson at 6:30 p.m. Monday, at the Mesa Verde Library, 2969 Mesa Verde Drive. In addition, Preschool Storytime will be at 11 a.m. Sept. 27, and Pajama Storytime will meet at 7 p.m. Sept. 28.

A book sale will take place at the Mesa Verde branch on Oct. 8.

At the Costa Mesa Donald Dungan Library, Bilingual Storytime is at 2 p.m. on Thursdays, Toddler Storytime is at 11 a.m. on Mondays, and Family Storytime will be at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

The movie "Charlie Brown: Happiness is a Warm Blanket" will be shown at 2 p.m. Sept. 27. Two movies are scheduled for Family Movie Nights at 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays. "The Swiss Family Robinson" will be shown on Wednesday followed by "Tarzan" on Sept. 28. The Donald Dungan branch is at 1855 Park Ave.


Boosting reading skills

READ/Orange County's Families for Literacy (FFL) works with parents and children to promote literacy skills in the parents and reading readiness in children younger than five. FFL tutors are specifically trained in methods of incorporating children's material into the tutoring sessions, as well as assisting parents in choosing appropriate reading materials for their children.

Family Reading Times are held regularly with parents and children to promote an atmosphere of fun and learning and to demonstrate that these can be synonymous. In Costa Mesa, these workshops are held once a month at both the Mesa Verde and Costa Mesa Donald Dungan libraries. Watch for them.


More library history …

In 1925, after only five months in its second building, it was necessary to move the library again. This time it was moved into a corrugated metal building, which had been a small factory in Apple Blossom Court, across an alley behind Newport Boulevard.

The building was owned by Carl Spencer, husband of Fanny Bixby Spencer. He donated the building and paid the utilities, did the landscaping and provided shelving, tables and chairs and other necessities. The library occupied that building for 26 years, rent free.

Fanny Bixby Spencer also was active in supporting the library. In fact, she supplemented librarian Sarah Conant's wages until she died in 1931. She gave more than 1,200 books in 1925, and continued to donate books every year until she died.

By the end of 1925, more than 600 patrons were using the library, and Conant expanded library hours to 2 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. She also worked from 9 a.m. to noon on those days, cataloging the collection and doing janitorial work.

By 1928, she was making $35 a month from the county, and $50 a month from Mrs. Spencer. The stipend ended when Fanny Bixby Spencer died. Conant economized, but also asked the county for a raise. She was given an additional $25 a month, and the county took over the cataloging duties for the branch.

In 1933, when circulation had grown to be more than Conant could handle by herself, she asked for an assistant. Because the county was unwilling to supplement library staff, Conant hired an assistant, Hazel Thompson, and paid her $10 monthly out of her own wages.

By 1938, a summer reading program for children had begun. Children had to read eight books and report on them to receive a certificate. In 1942, a Saturday story hour for children was started. Both were very popular additions to library service in Costa Mesa.

Then in September 1948, Conant fell on the library steps and broke her hip. In December, she decided to retire. An era had come to an end.

MARY ELLEN GODDARD produced this column on behalf of the Friends of Costa Mesa Libraries, the Costa Mesa Library Foundation and the three Costa Mesa Libraries in the Orange County Public Libraries.

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