The following article was written by then President Lillian Smith upon the opening of our Acton-Agua Dulce Library in September of 2010. It summarizes the history of the organization from its founding to the realization of our dream in the form of our present library, with the support of our two generous communities.
On September 29, 2010 the Acton - Agua Dulce Christopher Colombo Brevidoro Library opened its doors to the community. It was a project ten years in the making, with no small part played by the Friends of Acton - Agua Dulce Library in cooperation with Los Angeles County and the taxpayers of California.
In March of 2000, a local resident by the name of Denise Sedore had a dream. She envisioned a group of people dedicated to providing a public library for the residents of Acton and Agua Dulce local residents. She set about recruiting a small group of like-minded individuals, including myself, Janice and Frank Zolnierowicz, and Sharon Wilson. We created a non-profit, tax-exempt corporation called Friends of Acton - Agua Dulce Library for the purpose of helping to support the establishment and maintenance of a local branch of the Los Angeles County Public Library. We were perhaps the only Friends group operating without a public library to support, but we were never without hope. Within a year or two, we were joined by others who helped build the organization.
The passage of Proposition 14 (the California Reading and Literacy Improvement and Public Library Construction and Renovation Bond Act of 2000) provided an opportunity that eventually led to a library for Acton - Agua Dulce. Pursuant to the availability of this funding mechanism, Friends of the Library acted as a liaison between the County and local organizations. Representatives of both Acton and Agua Dulce Town Councils, Women’s Clubs, Chambers of Commerce and Civic Associations, the Acton Community Club, the School District, and of course, Friends of Acton - Agua Dulce Library, met with Los Angeles County Librarian Margaret Donnellan Todd and Supervisor Michael Antonovich’s staff. The group learned that Supervisor Antonovich had identified Acton - Agua Dulce as a project for Proposition 14 funding.
The highly competitive process of applying for Prop. 14 money began. Tetra Designs was hired to create the necessary planning and design documents for the application. With local participation, Consultant Gloria Novak, hired by Tetra Designs, researched and formulated the grant application based on community demographics, 20-year need projections, a joint use agreement between the School District and the County, and a donation of land by the Brevidoro Family. An independent Library Planning Advisory Committee, chaired by Kathy Howald, a community- based group chaired by Kathy Howald, with Friends members participating, assisted Ms. Novak. Community meetings were held and information was gathered for the application. All of the needed research and development spanned a course of nearly two years before the County was ready to submit the application, in January 2004, for a 10,000 square foot library on a 1.5 acre site on the east side of North Crown Valley Road about one-quarter mile north of Sierra Highway.
Much to the pleasure of those who worked so hard and so long on this project, the
California Public Library Construction and Renovation Bond Act Board awarded Acton - Agua Dulce’s application with a $4.6 million grant in the fall of 2005. A last-minute presentation before the Board, in Sacramento, by local residents and members of the Library Planning Advisory Committee no doubt was instrumental in swaying the Board in our favor.
For two years more, after many meetings with architects, county agencies, artists and more, the dream of many was beginning to take shape. While it is amazing how long the process has taken, it is safe to say that the hard work and dedication of Friends members and Advisory Planning Committee members has been exemplary and unwavering. For three more years, the community could watch as ground officially was broken with ceremony on October 29, 2007. Supervisor Antonovich officiated along with County Library staff over a ribbon cutting witnessed by a large number of community members. Construction then began. Though the process has been slow and tedious, the end result no doubt has proven worth the wait.
Over the past ten years, Friends of Acton - Agua Dulce Library has held book sales, has created programs like Acton - Agua Dulce Reads, and has maintained a community presence that will continue as it supports the real library facility, raising funds to enhance the library collections and provide programs for community enrichment. Part of the Friends’ fundraising effort is applying for grants. One such grant application to Southern California Edison resulted in an award of $25,000 on July 27, 2010, for a program the Friends devised called “Celestial Exploration.” The Friends have purchased a telescope and accessory equipment with the money and is planning a regular monthly program.
As time has rolled by, the organization has grown to include additional competent and dedicated volunteers who enthusiastically participate for the benefit of the community.
The library is located at 33792 Crown Valley Road in Acton just north of Sierra Highway. It features some spectacular original artwork created especially for our library by Anne Marie Karlsen and local artist David Baker.
The work of the Friends will not stop when the library opens; indeed, our work will increase as our principal goal is to help support the library, its content and its programs. We want to make it the best library it can be, and we know that County funding most likely will be quite limited for some time to come. The Friends will continue to develop programs and services for the community beyond the basics the County will provide. We will need everyone’s help, including ideas and suggestions. We can make our library unique and productive. We want to increase and enhance literacy, provide educational resources for the community, encourage children to read and to think, and help our students get the best education possible in order to become the best they can be.
The Friends have consistently, for ten years, raised funds for library related projects. Proceeds from book sales have been turned back into programs like Acton - Agua Dulce Reads. Members of the Friends have attended L.A. County Library programs in order to learn more about fundraising and methods and procedures to properly sustain the Friends mission. We already have started providing funding for the children’s program at the Library beyond that which the County is able to provide at this time. It is through the efforts of Friends groups throughout Los Angeles County, supporting their respective libraries, that these facilities are able to provide additional services beyond what the County library budget allows.
Libraries are an essential part of making information available to anyone seeking it at no cost to the seeker. Anyone can walk into the library and available him- or herself of a massive amount of data. Facilitating this ability to learn is what we are all about as we support the preservation of a free society.
We truly appreciate the support of our membership, which has grown steadily over the years as we have moved closer to the prize. We encourage everyone to get a library card, sign up for a shelf plaque, attend the book sales and participate in Friends’ and County programs. The library is a welcome and most valuable asset for our communities with benefits for all, to be shared by all.