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Friends light the way

The contrast between the spiffy new exterior of the Laguna Beach Library and the shabby, but not-so-chic interior is raising some eyebrows.

Criticism by a parent about the uninspired décor in the children’s reading room started the library staff looking at the interior with new insight. The first steps have been taken to make improvements.

“I have spoken to local interior designer Lisa McDennon, who agreed to come and take a look and meet with the Friends of the Library,” Children’s Librarian Rebecca Porter said.

The Friends is a nonprofit organization that raises money for the library through minimal dues, donations, the sale of books in the little store under the branch on Glenneyre Street and grants. The nonprofit group recently tapped a broad section of the community to help them pay for exterior renovations to the library that the county could not afford.


“We raised the money for the paint and with the help of the community and the city, the library grounds were re-landscaped and refurbished with a delightful artist-designed bench,” said Martha Lydick, Friends president.

“Now it looks like the interior needs work.”

The library lighting is said by some to still be in the dark ages.

“That alone will be a major project,” Lydick said. “Replacement is estimated to cost between $72,000 and $90,000.”


Lydick has already spoken with the president of the El Toro Library that replaced the same system that still lights the Laguna branch.

An application previously filed by the Friends for a $15,000 city grant was earmarked for books and equipment. However, Lydick is hoping the application can be amended or interpreted to include needed interior improvements. The Friends also will apply for a $10,000 Edison grant for the lighting project.

McDennon, who has been in business in Laguna for eight years, said the lighting was not included in her original project, but she is willing to help with the specs, if asked.

“It’s obvious when you walk into the library that the lighting is outdated,” McDennon said. “It would make a huge difference if it was updated.

“I have been to the library a couple of times and met with Rebecca to talk about elements that can hopefully be addressed and changed.”

They also talked about costs and McDennon said she has incorporated in her design ways to include the community in fundraising.

“We have the local resources to make the library state of the art for our children,” parent Anita Razin said.

“I don’t understand why it’s in the state it is. I know the county needs help, and the city needs help, but the Friends should invite the community to get involved.


Razin, who takes her daughters, Neva, 6, and Kitra, 9, to the library at least three times a month, volunteered to assist in any way she could to help improve the interior of the library.

“Our library is an old lady, but she is well loved,” Porter said.