For the last 12 years the former City Library has been my home. The 3600 square foot building on G Street served as the Benicia Library from 1956 to 1993. Before that it was housed in the State Capitol building utilizing 600 sq. ft. with a book stock of 691 volumes. The interior of the library building has changed dramatically from the days that I brought my two young sons to study, research papers and read. The current kitchen is where we would return the books that were hopefully not too overdue and take out new ones on a weekly basis. The original wood counter with a return slat is still there with ink pad stains remaining in one of the drawers. The children's reading room is now my office and the back of the house, formerly the adult reading and research area, is our bedroom and living room. Wall racks used for current book titles of the day remain in what used to be the front of the Library which we use as a garage and storage area.
By 1990, the building was crammed with books, research materials and a few computers. Every square inch was utilized with little room for study, research or staff. Worn paint on the curb out front serves as a reminder that parking was at a premium with many trips around the block looking for a nearby spot.
I was a big proponent of building a new library and was involved with discussion about where it would be built, how it would look and of course how it would be paid for. The final outcome debuted in 1993 to rave reviews from the citizens of Benicia. Its 22,000 square feet stand as a symbol of Benicia's commitment to our culture and is so much more than a place to check out a book. The library and its professional staff offer numerous programs for children, teenagers, adults and seniors year round. These programs include concerts, book clubs, author talks, literacy services, story times, access to technology and technological resources, legal counseling, small business resources and regional networking to name a few. My favorite area of the library is the gallery space next to the Dona Benicia meeting area. There are several permanent art displays as well as rotating exhibits. "I Read the News Today, Oh Boy!" was a recent exhibit that brought twenty-eight highly recognized poets and visual artists from fourteen California Bay Area and Central coast cities who collaborated in a creative response to the news. It received much press coverage throughout the region for its quality and cultural insight.
It has been a remarkable experience living in a structure that has had a significant role in our cultural evolution. Vote YES on Measure L to Keep Our Library Open to continue the vision of generations who understood the importance of a strong and accessible place that satisfies the needs of our community now and in the future,
144 East G Street