Hope rekindled for expansion of tiny OB Branch Library
by DAVE SCHWAB
Jul 30, 2014 | 1821 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Advocates of the tiny Ocean Beach Branch Library are beginning to find new hope for the expansion of the site after years of pushing for modernization and more meeting space for public and private functions.                                  Photo by Dave Schwab
Advocates of the tiny Ocean Beach Branch Library are beginning to find new hope for the expansion of the site after years of pushing for modernization and more meeting space for public and private functions. Photo by Dave Schwab
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Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

The will unquestionably exists with the renewed effort to expand Ocean Beach’s tiny — but vital — library.

Now a way has to be found to pay for it.

Originally built in 1927, Ocean Beach’s 4,579-square-foot branch library at 4801 Santa Monica Ave., one of the city’s oldest and smallest vaults of knowledge, has no meeting space or adequate seating or collection space to serve the beach community’s growing needs.

“Several years ago, before the recession, beautiful architectural plans were drawn up, and preliminary land-use agreements were explored for a proposed 15,000-square-foot library addition,” said Judy Collier, president of the Ocean Beach Friends of the Library (OBFL).

Collier said nothing happened until a committee from the OBFL met recently with Mayor Kevin Faulconer to discuss the library expansion. 

“Apparently, any expansion would be a public-private partnership, and we would need to secure the private funding before the public funds would be made available,” said Collier. “The Ocean Beach Friends organization is continuing to work on this project, and we hope that substantial progress will be made by the 2016 Centennial Celebration of the founding of the Ocean Beach Library.”

Matt Beatty, head librarian for the Ocean Beach Branch Library, discussed his “wish list” for an expanded facility.

“What we’d be looking for in a new branch is expanded electric capacity to allow the addition of air conditioning and additional public computers, an expanded separate children’s area, an enlarged  book-sale area and a meeting room for both library and public use,” said Beatty. “The current facility lacks air conditioning, any meeting rooms for the public  and has very limited electrical access.  It is also too small to offer space for more than a couple of people wanting to study.”

Maureen Roeber, recent past OBFL president, said tangible progress is being made on planning for the OB library expansion.

“The library  project is the top priority on the Ocean Beach public facilities financing plan that is a part of the draft Ocean Beach Community Plan coming to the City Council [July 29],” said Roeber.

Another OBFL member, Laura Dennison, said that the city-owned, two-story office building next door to the library between it and the post office is part of the proposed expansion.

“According to rumor, the long-term leases have not been extended and are due to expire within two years,” said Dennison.

Dennison said the OB library’s expansion would not necessitate an expansion of the library’s parking lot because a recent community survey indicated “the population that goes to the library walks to it because OB is such a walkable community.”

Among other things, funds need to be found to hire a new architect to do “bridging documents” necessary to update previous work done by the OB architectural firm of Hanna Gabriel Wells on the library’s possible expansion.

Roeber said the OBFL has initiated community outreach on the library’s expansion.

“We’re still in preliminary steps,” she said. “We’ve got a little petition drive going with more than 100 signatures asking if people want to have our library expanded.”

Regarding fundraising for the planned facility, Roeber said, “Hopefully, we can find a way to do this public-private partnership.”

Roeber said the OBFL would like to get the OB library expansion on the city’s capital improvements program list. The OBFL has gotten a grant from the OB Town Council for the project, as well as having received support for the project from the Ocean Beach Community Development Corporation, Roeber said.

“Our goal is to have a firm commitment to get the project started by the 100th anniversary of the OB branch in 2016,” Roeber said. “Not that we think it could be done by 2016, just that we would at least like to get the wheels in motion by the anniversary.”
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