Library re-dedicated on its 50th anniversary

DOWNEY - The 50th anniversary of anything is usually a happy occasion, and the re-dedication and 50th anniversary celebration of the Downey City Library last Saturday had a number of special touches.On top of the usual ribbon cutting, photo-op, and speech-making, the program's array of treats and surprises ranged from a simple punch-and-cupcake-and-coffee offering for the guests in general and pi?±atas for the little kids in particular, to staging two well-received though dissimilar demonstrations: one was a cake decorating demonstration courtesy of Cakeland, the other a rousing display of juggling skills by a professional juggler in a jam-packed Children's Room. The schedule also included a scavenger hunt, book raffles and giveaways. With the library parking lot blocked off, the program lasted from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., while the library itself was open and catered to its usual Saturday clientele. One thousand commemorative gold library cards were issued for the occasion and offered to the first 1,000 card holders who wanted to trade their old or existing library cards for the new ones. And adding immensely to the gaiety of the occasion was the playing outside of lively calliope music (rendered by Mark Keller) which seemed to provide just the right bright note to the event. A slew of speakers provided bits of library history and context. Library Advisory Board chair Susan Bouris spoke especially of its early years, while Friends of the Library president Cleo Latimer underscored the hefty $4,000/mo. revenue stream being realized by the volunteer group ("All from the sale of books, magazines, and sundry stuff," she beamed). City Librarian Nancy Messineo meanwhile thanked everybody-residents, patrons, and the all-important staff, volunteers, and donors-who's had a hand in the library's dynamic growth. Community Services director Thad Phillips, who preceded Messineo as City Librarian and was the ceremony's emcee, expressed similar thoughts. The City Council members also saluted the library's achievements (its Internet hookup, literacy program, etc.). It was left to Mayor Mario Guerra to outline its major highlights: in 1958, two years after the city's incorporation, the library cut its affiliation with the county library system by City Council resolution, and henceforth Downey had its own library; on Dec. 17, 1959, construction of a new library building was completed (it measured almost 16,000 square feet) at a cost of $186,200 (or ($11.97 per sq. ft.). "It is this dedication that we are celebrating here today," Guerra pointed out. The number of checkouts 50 years hence was projected then, Guerra said, to reach 220,000 per year, and that there would be 40,000 users. "Today," he said, "checkouts have reached almost a half million and there are now more than 89,000 users." Guests included former mayors Dianne Boggs and Bob Cormack (after whom the oft-used Cormack Room was named), Dr. Mary Stauffer, and school board member Martha Sodetani. Rep Lucille Roybal-Allard, state senator Alan Lowenthal and assemblyman Hector de la Torre were also represented. Said Guerra: "We look forward to another 50 years of library service to our Downey community."

********** Published: October 9, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 25

FeaturesEric Pierce