U.C’s community came together. Both Regents Road Bridge advocates and opponents joined others marching up and down in front of the Governor Drive library. Drivers gave a thumbs-up and honked their horns in support. District 1 City Councilwoman Sherri Lightner joined the march. People trudged downtown to attend City Council meetings to speak out against the proposed closure. Locals carried signs in protest, and City Hall got the message “loud and clear.” No closure would occur, but hours were slashed.
Turn the calendar a few years later.
On April 20, a new mayor with a new agenda joined Lightner to deliver a proclamation from the city honoring the 40th anniversary of the University Community Library. Mayor Bob Filner cut the first piece of cake and schmoozed with the members of the crowd, who applauded the event. He pointed out the new computers that were installed, with more to come.
Everyone knows that a head librarian makes a big difference. Sharon Thomerson runs this library and has turned it into a successful community center with people waiting in line to get inside almost every day. She has developed a series of lectures and musicals in the community room that draw a large crowd. This vibrant lady has activities for all ages. Hopefully, City Hall will continue to add more hours and revisit expansion for the families who love to take their children to the library.
What is a community without a library? How could anyone close a library? A closed library would attract new homeowners, that’s for sure. Helen Liebowitz, president of Friends of the Library in U.C., was mistress of ceremonies for the event. The Friends of the Library have raised funds for new furniture and new computers. Helen introduced Lightner, who spoke about the history of this library that was born in a storefront in the Marketplace Shopping Centere at the other end of Governor Drive. This tiny library served the community from 1973 to 1978 until the new library was built. This writer remembers reading to toddlers in the tiny storefront next to the then-popular University City pharmacy. The opening of a real library was a joyful event in 1978.
UC residents have a library expansion on their wish list, if the city can nudge Carl’s Jr. off the corner next to the library. Food for the mind has no junk food calories, and a larger library would provide more of the good stuff for future families. In the meantime, it was all smiles as library advocates of all ages enjoyed this special 40th anniversary celebration.
— Sandy Lippe is a 40-year resident of University City and the former president of the UC Community Association.