Historic bell to chime in on Lemon Grove’s new library
Right on schedule, a historic school bell rings in a new era for the Lemon Grove Library. Serving some 25,000 residents of the area, the brand-new Mission revival style library, at 3001 School Lane, will officially open with a celebration on June 1.
Built by Legacy, Inc., the library, in association with Roesling Nakamura Terada Architects, is a project of the Lemon Grove School District (LGSD) Proposition W.
Making history, the new 13,210-square-foot Lemon Grove Library is a joint-use with LGSD’s Lemon Grove Academy for the Sciences and Academies.
Owned by the district, the library will operate as the San Diego County Library System’s newest branch.
Lemon Grove Historical Society President Helen Ofield helped lead the way, co-chairing the Proposition W bond campaign with Ilse Hanning, former LSGD assistant superintendent. They worked with LGSD Superintendent Ernest Anastos, whom Ofield called the “Zen master of school bond measures.”
Ofield said the new library is a landmark building in the town and it has been a long time coming.
“They did it with Prop W, the successful 2008 bond that built the library,” she said. “In other words, Lemon Grovians taxed themselves to make this happen. That’s how important libraries are and have always been to this community of readers and lifelong learners. I couldn’t be prouder to walk among them.”
Nearly 50 percent larger than the existing branch, the new library will offer easy access for students within the district.
“There is a lot of excitement here in Lemon Grove as we prepare to open the new library,” said Anastos. “The new library will have a tremendous impact on project work and literacy. Our partnership with the County Library System provides the community and all of our students with a first class library on the site of one of the district’s oldest schools.”
For 25 years, Rosemary Putnam, former president and founder of Friends of the Lemon Grove Library labored to raise funds through sale of books. In 2012, she presented the school district $65,000.
The Friends raised 460,000 for the new, first-day book collection. Putman requested $5,000 from the city of Lemon Grove for the Family Literacy Collection—sum of $130,000 since the San Diego County Library System matched the collection dollar-for-dollar.
Branch Librarian Manager Amanda Heller looks forward to the new library.
“With a new library, there is enhanced publicity, so we’ll be seeing many new families and new faces,” Heller said. “For many people, visiting the new library will be the first library experience for them. A young child might learn to read from the books they checked out at the library, an adult might learn how to speak English with the help of a free ESL tutor. I also look forward to collaborating with other Lemon Grove groups to bring resources to the library.”
Library patrons will have access to four study rooms and eight laptops, a community room with an attached kitchen and outdoor poet’s patio. Some of the planned events, Heller said, are health workshops, author visits, and music programs.
“And best of all, it is all free,” she said.
So will be the activities on June 1, the official opening day, starting at 10 a.m.
The city will close School Lane for the celebration. The Lemon Grove Academy marching band will perform, and various dignitaries will speak at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, including Mayor Mary Sessom and County Library System director Jose Aponte.
Jonna Van Zanten Waite, daughter of Albert Van Zanten, will be among the special guests. Van Zanten was the grammar school teacher who rescued the school bell in 1976 and stored it for 25 years until the historical society retrieved it.
Don and Cathy Haynes, owners of The Finishing Factory, Santee, will be honored for their donating labor and supplies for sandblasting to restore the bell.
Rosemary Putnam, dubbed the “Den Mother of the Lemon Grove Library” for her decades of service with Friends of the Library, will also be honored.
Festive activities, sponsored by Lemon Grove Rotary, will continue until 5 p.m. in the ball field behind the Academy.