Progress in place to fund Ocean Beach Library expansion

Friends of OB Library have been leading the slow charge to expand the aging facility. At long last, they have good news to share: San Diego Library Expansion Committee members will meet with District 2 City Council member Dr. Jen Campbell in March about working the expansion money into the City's Five-Year Capital Infrastructure Plan (CIP). Campbell has already submitted the request for approval.

On Jan. 29, the Expansion Committee met with Mayor Kevin Faulconer and members of the City Public Works and Engineering staff to establish the need for a bigger library in Ocean Beach . "The Mayor was very positive about the expansion and said we need to do this and we need to do it now," Dennison told Point Loma -OB Monthly. "At this point, once the Committee can get $2 million for the expansion budget, we have an open door to solicit philanthropists who might want to have their name on a library."

The OB Library was started in 1916 by then-principal of OB Elementary School, Kate Spani. The quest to expand it began in the late 1990s.

In 2017, former District 2 Council member Lorie Zapf acquired $150,000 to fund a study of the building next to the library, aka "the Annex," to see what needed to be done to combine the Annex with the library. The study revealed it would cost more than $9 million.

After careful consideration, it was decided that the most cost-efficient way of handling the expansion would be to tear down the Annex and the newer library wing — leaving the historic part of the building untouched — and rebuild from scratch. This pricetag: $8.5 million.

Dennison pointed out that the OB Library is the oldest facility in the San Diego library system. "So it's our turn," she said, adding that a study of library guests revealed that the majority of them came to the library by foot, skateboard or bike. That makes the OB Library a more easily accessible location for residents than driving to the newer, larger Point Loma/Hervey Library, two miles away.

The reason it has taken so long for the library expansion to occur depends on who you ask, Dennison said. It could be a lack of pushing to get it done by the council district, a priority put off after the recession, or no large "seed" donation to start the ball rolling. "If someone wants to give us $10 million ... we'll name the library after anybody," Dennison laughed.

The Friends of OB Library can be reached at (619) 531-1532 or obfriendsofthelibrary@gmail.com

---

OB Library Facts

• The Ocean Beach library building dates back to 1928 when it was built at a cost of $18,697. The current building replaced the original library, which opened in a storefront on Abbott street in 1916 after community leaders raised $200 to pay the rent of $5 per month. 

• Architect Robert Snyder designed the library building and it was expanded in 1962 to its current size of 4,579 square feet.

• Another renovation in 2012 provided new carpeting and a new roof.

Copyright © 2019, © 2019, The San Diego Union-Tribune, LLC. All rights reserved.
58°