The new Idyllwild Library that opened in Strawberry Plaza in a grand ceremony on Tuesday, Oct. 23, owes a debt to many who have labored for over 15 years to bring this expanded library service to fruition.
“Kay Cineceros had the county buy the facility on [lower] Pine Crest in 1996,” said past Friends of the Library President Erin O’Neill. “We asked Teresa [Brouwer, past branch manager] what we [the Friends] could do for her. She told us she needed increased space.”
O’Neill then described the years of trying to expand the a gift of $50,000 from previous Third District County Supervisor Jim Venable and more than $50,000 raised by the Friends. “Until the county outsourced library management to LSSI, we paid two employee salaries in order to extend library hours in 1996 and 1997. I was given the charge of enlarging the library in 2000 and that is when we made the big push for expansion. We raised money, secured volunteers to build and got community support for the project.” O’Neill recalled that George Allebrand helped write the expansion proposal with Ron Voell’s help and Norm Doshier and she carried on the battle to get it built.
O’Neill then described the problem with building plans for the expansion coming too near the Suburban Propane tank field, subsequent objections from the Idyllwild Fire Department and eventually a county decision not to proceed because of those concerns.
O’Neill noted she and Marge Muir mentioned the idea of the Coronet Building in Strawberry Plaza to new Supervisor Jeff Stone sometime before 2006. Although Stone nixed the idea at the time it remained, according to O’Neill.
Claremont attorney and Friends Volunteer Bob Ferguson commented on the unwavering support form Stone once the Coronet building concept was launched. “Stone made the decision that it would be a reality and he put all his influence and experience to work.”
The library reflects the hard work, including site visits made by the Friends to the most modern public libraries in the area. “Cal Gogerty and the Friends group visited all new libraries and interviewed librarians to find where the glitches were, what didn’t work, whether with space, furniture or area allotments,” said Ferguson. “When the Friends met with the county and the library architect, they had already done their homework. The give and take with the architect [HMC Architects, Ontario] was outstanding.”
At the dedication ceremony Stone thanked the Friends as the ones who led the effort. “We put the best technology in this building and wired it so that it could accommodate technical advances over the years,” he said. “It’s always extra special when a longtime dream comes true.”
County Librarian Barbara Morrow Williams said, “Libraries are part of the social capital of the community, built out of networks of trust that come together for mutual benefit.” Addressing the audience, she added, “In the years to come, all of these shelves will be filled. I hope that you will make full use of this library.”
In presenting a check to Stone for $32,500 to allow the library to remain open for 40 hours a week over six days for a two-year period, Friends President Adele Voell said, “We saved this money. The county might as well have it.”