Idea that’s one for the books

GARDEN GROVE’S MAIN BRANCH Library on Stanford Avenue (Orange County Tribune photo).

I don’t have a bucket list; what I have is a shopping list. And it’s not for me, it’s for the community.

Recently the City of Garden Grove held an open house to consider possible changes in the Civic Center area, all stemming from a plan to build a new, more modern – and bigger – police headquarters building.

It’s not, we are told, just a matter of constructing a new “cop shop.” Things will likely be moved around and there may be opportunities to enhance the area beyond simply redesigning much of the Civic Center area to offer improvements for the community at large.

In light of all this – and assuming there’s some cash available to do it – I have my nominee, which has always been high on my shopping list.

A new (or expanded) main library.

The existing structure on Stanford Avenue opened in 1969, and when it opened, it was “state-of-the-art.”  A two-story structure complete with a meeting room, a large children’s library and a lovely fountain in front.

I spent many an hour browsing the stacks, doing research and sometimes meeting people for study time in my high school and college days. 

Jim haunts bookstores and libraries like some people pub crawl. Books are my controlled substance and I can’t get enough.

But as society has changed, so has the role of libraries. Fewer people are checking out books and such as electronic alternatives for information have emerged.

Libraries have adapted by re-inventing themselves as multi-function facilities. They have – mostly – cut back on books on shelves and added computers, printers, scanners, internet access, etc. They’ve served as galleries for art and local history and as meeting places where classes can be held. Free meals are made available during summer months there, courtesy of the school district. The uses are only limited by the creativity of the folks involved.

The library on Stanford Avenue is in need of modernization and/or replacement. Some genius built it halfway below the surface, right next to a system of ponds and brooks. Over the years, water has seeped into the building and caused no end of mischief on the lower level. Many areas of Garden Grove have high underground water tables, which requires special attention to that detail.

Out front the once-gorgeous fountain has been dry for years, and plans to fill the space with beautiful landscaping have been on the “to-do list” for years. On the plus side, the surrounding grounds are gorgeous and colorful. The site has plenty of room to expand without cutting much into the open space.

The library is operated by the county, but the building is owned by the City of Garden Grove. What could speak more eloquently to the City of Youth and Ambition’s desire to lead in the Information Age than to re-invest in a (modest) palace of learning in the heart of town?

Jim Tortolano’s “Retorts” column alternates with “Usually Reliable Sources.”

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