Sunday, February 25 , 2018, 1:23 pm | Fair 61º


Local News


Los Alamos Library Ready for New Chapter After Community-Led Effort

Organizers plan Saturday grand opening for small community's new branch of Santa Maria system

Santa Maria Librarian Mary Housel is among those helping load shelves at the new Los Alamos Library in preparation for a grand opening celebration that is planned for Saturday.
Santa Maria Librarian Mary Housel is among those helping load shelves at the new Los Alamos Library in preparation for a grand opening celebration that is planned for Saturday. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

A pinky promise, fundraisers, multiple government meetings, and months of patience by volunteers has led to the  revival of the Los Alamos Library.

The success of the grassroots effort will be celebrated Saturday at the facility, 405 Helena St.

A grand opening program will begin at 10 a.m., followed by a ribbon cutting, and the official library opening. 

“I have never for a moment doubted this would happen,” said volunteer Vickie Gill, who is secretary/treasurer of the Friends of the Los Alamos Public Library. “It’s too right.”

Gill, a retired teacher, said a conversation with businessman Stephan Bedford of Bedford Winery led them to make a pinky promise to see the re-opening of the small town’s library.

In June 2013, they formed the Friends of the Los Alamos Public Library to spearhead the re-opening. They thought it would take six months and $50,000. Instead, it took two years and more money, partly to abate lead-based paint in the building.

Help came from various sources, including a grant from the Santa Barbara Arts Commission to install art lighting.

The county-funded branch library is operated by the Santa Maria Public Library system and located in an Orcutt Unified School District building on the corner of the Olga Reed Elementary School campus.

On a recent hot afternoon, Gill and Librarian Mary Housel worked in the air-conditioned building where much remained to be done, but a lot of the tasks head already been accomplished.

Computers, which will be available to the public, and another to be used for a library catalogue, were to be installed within days as soon as IT staff  was available.

In the small town where most of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch programs, library supporters expect the Internet-accessible computers will be popular for those without the capability at their homes.

Comfortable chairs are set up in a corner, with an assortment of magazines available.

They planned to add more shelves and had yet do much in the children’s section, which like its counterparts would include puzzles and bead toys, Housel said 

Photography by local artist Jeffrey Bloom hangs on the walls. 

Donated or duplicate books are helping fill the shelves. Dozens of DVDs also will be available for check out. 

“We expect DVDs to be very popular,” Housel said.

The building formerly housed the Los Alamos library from 1966 until 1988 before budget cuts forced the county to shut the facility and give it to the local school district.

With the Los Alamos school now part of the Orcutt district, the volunteers had to seek permission to use the facility.

They also needed the city of Santa Maria’s blessings to include the Los Alamos branch as part of the system that also boasts Cuyama, Guadalupe and Orcutt libraries.

Orcutt schools agreed to lease the building to the city for a mere $1 a year, to help make the library a reality.

The project hit a snag with the discovery of lead-based paint that needed to be abated. 

Along the way, Gill said, the project has had much support, including from Third District county Supervisor Doreen Farr and Santa Maria’s library staff.

At the grand opening ceremony, children will be invited to participate in a fun scavenger hunt inside the library, and the Friends of the Library will hold a book sale and offer free refreshments. 

The grand opening celebration will include a flag ceremony by Brownie Troop 55541 from Santa Ynez, and presentations by Farr,  Bedford, Housel and Olga Reed School Principal Joe Dana.

After a ribbon cutting, the library doors will open to the public.

The Los Alamos Library will be open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 3 to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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