With eight years of extensive preparation and exceeding one thousand people in attendance, the grand opening of the Ventura County Library on Hill Road pleasantly suprised those in attendance.
“I knew it was going to be very popular, but it still exceeded my expectations and that really warms my heart,” said Deputy Library Director Nancy Schram, who will be succeeding Jackie Griffin as Library Director on Dec. 15. “It just shows so much how the community is embracing this library.”
The launch kept the supporters entertained with many activities such as raffling off a Beatles photo book and posters, a ceremonial ribbon cutting, barbecue catering provided by the Ventura Downtown Lions Club, a doll-making activity led by Judee Hauer, a photo booth, live music and multiple speeches.
The publications available in paper at the Hill Road location are just the tip of the iceberg of options, continuing on to online resources where readers will be able to find books obtainable from as far away as New York.
Debbie Giles, chair of the City of Ventura’s Library Advisory Commission, makes it clear that “this is not a place to be shushed, it’s a place to go and have that sense of community and fellowship.”
“This is a community space to be used how the community needs it,” Giles stated.
Many twists and turns have led up to bringing the library to life on the east end of town, where there hasn’t been one present in eight years.
As told by Kathy Thomson, president of the Ventura Friends of the Library, after the Wright Library closed on Nov. 30, 2009, many eyes were opened as to the truth that “libraries need funds, but they also need volunteers.”
The closing left many residents of Ventura without a library on their side of town.
Support from Ventura’s residents was given to bring back a new community library as soon as possible. After eight years, a prospective location was found in an abandoned restaurant.
“It was working together with your public officials, non-profits and county staff to make it happen,” Thomson said. “It was truly a team effort.”
“Whether you are mom pushing a stroller or a kid on a bike or somebody just walking with your cane, you can get to a library easily,” Giles said in her speech after the library successfully opened.
Branch Manager Antonio Apodaca described the new library as the community’s “front porch” where it can be a center for everyone in Ventura.
“We need the community to feel like this is a safe place, like […] a home away from home,” Apodaca assured.