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'Friends' Take a Look Inside the New Lemon Grove Library

The joint-use facility on School Lane and Lincoln Street is on schedule to open in spring.

The long wait for a new library is almost over. With construction nearing completion on the $10.3 million project, the building is rapidly taking shape. And while there are still ceilings and floors to be finished, lighting to be installed, and painting to be done before book shelves can go up and furniture can be moved in, it isn’t hard to imagine how the expansive space will soon look.

The top leadership of the Friends of the Lemon Grove Library toured the facility Tuesday, and gave it their approval. Rosemary Putnam, a founding member of the organization and its president emeritus, surveyed the area where the new bookstore will be located just left of the library’s grand entrance and quickly began making plans. Jim Elliott, the group’s newly elected president, had his eye on the future.

“Just think—100 years from now, 150 years from now, this will be here,” Elliott remarked. “People will still be using this library.”

In July, the —$60,000 of which was raised by the Friends through book sales, and $5,000 granted by the city to the Family Literacy Collection at Putnam's request.

The Lemon Grove School District broke ground on the joint-use facility Nov. 30, 2011. The dual project, located at the corner of School Lane and Lincoln Street, modernized the campus of the Lemon Grove Academy for the Sciences and Humanities and created the city's new library. It was funded by Proposition W, the $28 million school bond measure passed by voters in 2008.

Putnam, Elliott and his wife, Ann, and Lemon Grove Historical Society president Helen Ofield were among those to get a peek at the library’s interior from project manager Ken Fine, the district’s former director of facilities and operations, and Superintendent Ernie Anastos.

The Historical Society tracked down and rescued the school's original bell— ordered in 1895 from a Sears catalog and cast by the Charles S. Bell Foundry in Hillsboro, OH—which will take its place in the new building's bell tower.

Donna Ohr, deputy director of the San Diego County Library, was also on hand Tuesday. She is excited that years of planning is about to pay off with a new branch for Lemon Grove.

“We are always happy to have new libraries,” Ohr said. “And this community has waited a long time.”

Fine said construction is on schedule and should be completed in mid-March. The library itself is likely to open to the public in April, and the district is looking at a May date for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The nearly 13,000-square-foot Mission-style library features a grand staircase entry, Friends of the Lemon Grove Library bookstore, a great room with soaring open-beam ceiling, a computer room, project rooms, and a new community room—all awash in natural light from the walls of arched windows.

It will be operated in tandem by the district and the county library. Middle school children will use a private secure entrance from Lemon Grove Academy during school hours. The building also houses the school’s new administrative offices.

Jennifer Lynn Mendoza January 29, 2013 at 10:54 PM
Can't wait to check out my first book at the new library!
Barbara M January 30, 2013 at 05:33 PM
I remember San Altos Elementary's first official library - in the "Cafetorium". My first recollection of our city library took up the end space in the green building on the corner of Pacific and Olive, across from the DIY car wash.
Helen Ofield January 30, 2013 at 05:59 PM
You are correct, Barbara. In another incarnation, the library (replete with a modest, hanging sign, "Library") was in the old Por Favor building at Golden and Imperial (today, Lemon Grove Avenue). "Cafetorium" was a word in wide usage in schools that combined a lunch room with an auditorium. After WW II, it was the legendary Ruth Pfister, Nutrition Director in the Lemon Grove School District, who literally wrote the book for the State of California on nutritious lunches for growing children. This was when all food, including fresh bread, was cooked from scratch by Ruth and her staff, using U.S. Navy surplus kitchen equipment purchased at auction in San Pedro. The Historical Society has her recipes. Who else has a "foodie" memory from the early days of our school district?
Matt Worthington January 31, 2013 at 07:41 AM
I remember the amazing food while I was a student at Golden Avenue Elementary. The food standards nowadays with never allow for that food to be served.
Helen Ofield January 31, 2013 at 03:35 PM
Nice memory, Matt! But the good news, now, is that our school district is in the vanguard of the "Healthy Foods" movement and began instituting excellent, low-fat menus a year or more ago. There is an organic farmer's market outside Golden Avenue School on Fridays and further down School Lane a table with bags of fresh fruit for students to buy as they head home for the weekend. There is also the HEAL zone committee that promotes healthy living (exercise, diet, etc).

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