Friends of the Libraries: Future begins at Technology Library

The Costa Mesa Technology Library is set to re-open in its new location on the northwest corner of Fairview Road and Wilson Street, next to the Subway sandwich shop, on April 30. The "Open House" will be from 1 to 4 p.m., complete with prizes. Check it out!

Civic Center Park sign

I read Jeffrey Harlan's column "Discovering the joy of books" in the Daily Pilot on Sunday. Whoopee! I thought. We need more of this. I have to say that I agreed with what he said, that the "new library" sign in Civic Center Park is bedraggled and faded. What he was perhaps not aware of is that the sign is set to be taken down. I am wondering how long it will take for people to notice its absence and comment on that.

So — why is it being demolished instead of being refurbished? Years ago, when the state was giving grants for new library construction, it was hoped to build a 50,000-square-foot library on that spot. The location has a number of good points. It is in the center of the city, on bus routes for transportation and near schools, City Hall and housing tracts. Because the park is small, it would have to have been at least a two-story building, and in order to have enough parking, there would have to have been a parking garage constructed also. This meant that it was going to cost about $50 million (at construction prices at the time) to get the facility built. It would have cost more not only to build, but also to operate a library with more than one story.

But because Costa Mesa is mostly built-out, and there aren't large empty spaces like those in Irvine, the Costa Mesa Library Foundation hoped to make it work. Unfortunately, funding did not materialize. This last slump in the housing and financial markets hit the foundation hard. After looking again at the needs in our city for more space to provide the library services we need, the organization has decided to look at other options.

The foundation board has decided to consider either a joint project (perhaps with the Newport-Mesa Unified School District at the Mesa Verde School site) or a project based on conversion of existing structures (a joining of the Neighborhood Community Center and the Costa Mesa/Donald Dungan Library with a smaller structure/entrance). We have arranged for Orange Coast College architecture students to do mock-ups and drawings of these projects as part of their regular class work. These will be presented to the public in several months time.

But to get back to Harlan's column. Among his other comments, he says, "Libraries are not relics of the past. Even in this age of digital information, people still flock to our public repositories. We need physical places to gather, explore, study and engage." Yes! And we shouldn't have to go to other towns to do it.

At the Mesa Verde Library

Alice Baker, a longtime volunteer at the used bookstore at the Mesa Verde Library, has passed away. The Friends will miss her, not only for the hours she put in helping sell books, but for her pleasing personality. Her family has asked that all donations be made to the Friends of the Costa Mesa Libraries.

I am sure that many of you will be of mixed emotions when I tell you that the branch manager of the Mesa Verde Library, Rosalind Wilkes, retired May 2. Like me, you will most likely be sorry that she is gone, but wish her a great retirement.

The Friends of the Costa Mesa Libraries Book Club will meet the third Monday of the month and discuss Jane Austen's "Persuasion." The group meets at 6:30 p.m. in the bookstore behind the library.

The eReader class/workshops at 9:15 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday will continue in May. Call (714) 546-5274 for information and to sign up.

Preschool Storytime is from 11 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesdays. Ms. Mary-Pat's Pajama Storytime is scheduled from 7 to 7:30 p.m. May 8. READ OC Family Reading Time is from 7 to 8 p.m. May 9. Craft Night is from 7 to 7:30 p.m. May 15. And the After School Library Club will meet from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. May 16.

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 branches of the Orange County Public Libraries.

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