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Santa Monica Library Ocean Park Branch Celebrates Centennial
By Jorge Casuso
February 7, 2018 -- When the first branch of the Santa Monica Public Library opened in Ocean Park 100 years ago, the main library building Downtown had grown from 800 donated books when it opened in 1890 to some 20,000 books.
On Saturday, the City will kick off a year-long celebration honoring the Centennial of the Ocean Park Branch Library, 2601 Main Street, one of the few Carnegie-endowed structures still functioning as a public library in Southern California.
"For one hundred years, the Ocean Park Branch has served as a vibrant learning center where people connect with new ideas and take part in programs and services for all ages," said Patty Wong, the director of Library Services.
The celebration -- which kicks off with an afternoon of crafts, games, light refreshments and music on the lawn -- will "honor the past while we look to our bright future," Wong said.
The building, designed in the Classical Revival architectural style by local architects Frank T. Kegley and H. Scott Gerity was constructed in 1917-18 on land donated by the Tegner family and opened in February 15, 1918.
The branch building was designated a historic landmark by the Santa Monica Landmarks Commission in 1977, and children and teen sections were added in 1984, increasing its size to 8,434 square feet. In 2011, the building's interior was renovated.
The need to add a branch to Santa Monica's main library became apparent when the 1912-13 annual report noted that the collection, which had increased to 18,568 volumes, "was already beginning to outgrow the building," library officials wrote in an online history.
In 1906, the Clapp Brother’s Drug Store on Pier Avenue set up a book exchange to make it easier to circulate books. By 1913, circulation at the Main Library would total 80,666.
"Eventually a lot on the northeast corner of Ocean Park Boulevard and Main Street was purchased for $8,000 to build a branch library in the Ocean Park neighborhood," Library officials wrote.
"The mayor wrote to the Carnegie Corporation requesting a grant to help with construction costs. Carnegie granted $12,500."
Three other branches would be added over the years -- the Fairview Branch, the Montana Avenue Branch and the Pico Branch, which opened in 2014 ("Pico Library Officially Opens with Multi-Cultural Celebration," June 30, 2014).
Saturday's program is free and open to the public. For more information call 310-458-8683 or visit smpl.org. The Ocean Park Branch is served by Big Blue Bus line #1 and #8.
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