Actress and author Jamie Lee Curtis opened the day-long celebration of the opening of Santa Monica’s new Main Library in the north courtyard, saying the $57.7 million structure was built with “blood, sweat and tears” and was a place where “ideas can be shared and books can be shared. Public libraries, as far as I’m concerned, are places for the community.”
Santa Monica Mayor Robert Holbrook then told the large crowd that the opening was the culmination of an “18-year process. We’ve passed bond measures and participated in design and programming planning…It’s resources and services are astounding. Can you think of another city that is three by three and a half miles square with 85,000 people that not only has a library like this but also has auxiliary libraries around town. Most cities don’t have a library and depend on county facilities.”
City Librarian Greg Mullen then took the podium and stated the library’s mission is to “preserve the past, serve the present and shape the future. The environmentally friendly library was designed to showcase and celebrate its reading areas, community rooms and the collections it houses…the public art piece by Carl Cheng, ‘Underwater Canopy’ is a real demonstration of how the architect, landscape architect and the artist can come together to create a beautiful environment. This project involved staff from all over the City. This new library is for you. It’s a place to uncover a great book, connect with your community and ignite your imagination.”
The Chair of the Library Board Edward Edwards also spoke, saying “The Library Board is the voice of the community…We listened to the community at the library planning workshops and noted, the people of Santa Monica wanted the library to be more than a repository for books. The public wanted a place to gather and a place they could respect one another. The Library Board believes we have helped to consciously design an inviting community center to make the library the new town square. Libraries are the hallmark of a free society. Once the ribbon is cut, anyone, regardless of age, race, religion, status or political affiliation can make use of all our resources and the only cost of admission is curiosity and the desire to learn. In these shadowed times of Patriot Acts and surveillances, the library stands as a lighthouse guiding those who seek the truth.”
Finally, Laura Krisoloff from County Supervisor Zev Zavoslosky’s office presented Holbrook with a proclamation from the County Board of Supervisors, and then Holbrook and Mullen cut the ribbon as the Samohi marching band played, signifying the official opening.
On entering the library, the crowd was treated to refreshments provided by Whole Foods and Izzy and Bud’s Deli in the central courtyard. Bud’s Deli will operate the café in the courtyard, which is scheduled to open in early March.
Children’s events included readings and book signings by Curtis and actress/children’s book author Rhea Perlman, a puppet show, Mexican folk dancing and an animal show by the Animal Guys.
In the Martin Luther King, Jr. Auditorium, CityTV’s Sandy Jacobson interviewed some of the people involved in the design, planning and construction of the library, as well as several Santa Monica writers.
The library administration estimates that about 5,000 people attended the opening day celebration.
In an e-mail to the Mirror Council member Kevin McKeown stated, “Santa Monica, by City Council policy, is a lifelong learning community – and what better tool for lifelong learning than this wonderful new library, planned and built to serve us all for many years to come.”
The first floor of the 104,000 square foot building contains the fiction collection, the 146-seat Martin Luther King Jr. Auditorium, the Friends of the Library used bookstore, and the Bookmark café. It will also house the 5,000 square foot Santa Monica Historical Museum.
Nonfiction, reference and periodicals collections are on the second floor, as well as study rooms, reading room, computer commons, a computer training room, community meeting rooms, library administrative offices and a board room.