Friends of Carmel Valley Library looking for support to remove streaks from library’s exterior

The Friends of the Carmel Valley Library are hoping to freshen up the library’s exterior. The library turns 20 this July. Photo/Jon Clark

By Karen Billing

The Carmel Valley Library is celebrating its 20th anniversary in July this year and it is the Friends of the Carmel Library’s mission to make sure the library looks good for its special birthday and the next few chapters of life.

While on the inside the library looks great as it is buzzing with activity and has the highest circulation in the city, on the outside it needs some work, said Suzanne Bacon, president of the Friends of the Carmel Valley Library.

Black streaks have marked the façade, seeming to ooze down from the roof and windows.

“The exterior [of the library building] really doesn’t match that feeling the community has for the library,” Bacon said.

It’s Bacon’s hope that the library could have that “nice dress” to wear to the party by July but realizes that funding is a tough issue. Not only does the exterior need to be re-done but also whatever is causing the problem needs to be fixed so it doesn’t happen in the future. District 1 City Councilmember Sherri Lightner’s office is aware of the issue and has been very supportive, Bacon said.

Early estimates are that the work could be around $60,000.

Bacon said the first step is to get people to notice the problem, secondly to get people to be aware of the Friends of the Carmel Valley Library and want to be involved.

“I just really love the library and it’s such an important resource for our community,” Bacon said. “I think our library really is a meeting and gathering place, it brings a lot of people together to learn and experience art and culture. The easier you make access to literacy, the better it is for the community.”

The Carmel Valley branch is a particularly busy library — it consistently has the highest circulation with the most items checked out in the city of San Diego.

Many teenagers use the library and put in volunteer hours there, which Bacon said is a huge accomplishment as traditionally teenagers are a hard age group to get to the library.

The library’s baby and toddler story times are extremely popular with 80 to 100 children attending each week. Additionally, the Friends group runs a music program featuring community concerts that are often standing room only.

Bacon has been involved with the Friends for three years and has served the last two years as its president. They are an all-volunteer nonprofit group with the purpose to raise awareness, support and funds.

The way they raise the most funds is through memberships, which range from $10 to $100. People can become an individual life member with a $250 donation through September 2013 or they can become a patron with a $1,000 donation. Special gifts are, of course, also accepted.

The Friends also raise money through book sales.

“What’s remarkable about this community is that they are very generous about donating books to the library,” Bacon said.

Donated books either go into the collection or become a part of the sales. Sales are ongoing during library hours in the small books room and they have special bargain book sales, such as the upcoming one on March 27 from 12:30-7:30 p.m. Once a year they also hold an antique and extraordinary book sale.

Last year the Friends were able to donate $12,000 to the library, which was matched by the city. All of the funds go back to the library for materials and equipment.

One of the library’s most exciting purchases last year was its new book drop—because of its high circulation the library’s book drop was constantly overflowing, which sometimes damaged the content.

“People here are reading that’s for sure,” Bacon said.

Some Friends of the Library groups in the city are able to raise enough money for libraries to be open on Sundays, which Bacon said is “a wonderful dream” for Carmel Valley.

She said she’d love to have more people join the Friends as members, get involved and hopefully help meet their goal to keep the Carmel Valley Library looking like the valued community asset it is.

The group meets the first Wednesday of every month at 5:30 p.m. at the library (3919 Townsgate Dr., San Diego, 92130-2584). To become a member, make a donation or for more information, visit