Santa Barbara’s Eastside Library is celebrating its 50th birthday on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The celebration will include cupcakes, tacos, and a mariachi band.
Residents can also expect crafts, activities and a historical presentation talking about the library’s history. Attendee’s can learn about how the library’s Martin Luther King Jr. room was completely funded and paid for by community members.
“The community got together because they wanted a meeting room for the community,” Lisa Gonzales, supervising librarian for the Eastside Library, told Noozhawk. “So, this library has kind of a cool history, especially in the ’70s, of being a hotbed of community action and getting together.”
The Board of Library Trustees voted to prioritize building the Eastside Library in April 1968, the day before King was assassinated. The library opened in May 1973 after five years of planning and community fundraising by the MLK Memorial Wing Committee.
The library also will honor the legacy of Elvira Gomez de Tafoya, who passed away in late 2022. Tafoya was a longtime supporter and volunteer of the Eastside Library.
The library was renovated in 2020, and since the COVID-19 pandemic, the space has allowed for community classes and after-school activities. Gonzales said that since the renovation, the space feels cleaner, brighter and more open.
With the rise in book bans and the controversy around librarians, Gonzales said the library will continue to serve as a space for education.
“The library stands for intellectual freedom, we stand for privacy, we stand for people educating themselves to make the best decisions they can for their lives,” Gonzales said. “I would hate to ever take that away for our children and our community.”
As the library looks ahead at the next 50 years, Gonzales told Noozhawk that the Eastside Library is becoming a hub for outreach. The library on-the-go van is parked at the Eastside Library, and they’re talking about continued renovation of the campus to add a garage for the van and expand their outreach efforts.
“We’re always listening to our community and being attentive to their needs and making sure we have the information, the programs and the time to get together,” Gonzales said.