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.