AN INTERVIEW WITH FRIENDS FOUNDER BARBARA BARING-GOULD

HISTORY OF THE MONTECITO LIBRARY

First library in 1910

In 1910 a free library was established in one room of the building that currently houses the library.  There was a beginning list of only 28 cardholders.  The library operated on private contributions and a resident of the community acted as librarian.  At that time the building was used as a community center where, in addition to the library, there were plays, movies and other events.  Over time the building gradually deteriorated and the library moved to a storefront across the street.

County ownership

In 1941 the current library building was deeded to S.B. County and added to the park system.  In 1959 the County Board of Supervisors announced their plan to sell the property to the highest bidder.  This startled the local residents and discussion about raising funds to keep the building and renovate the library began.

Friends of the Montecito Library (FOML) step in

The Friends of the Montecito Library was the major player in acquiring the building that now houses the library and renovating it. The County would not release $160,000 earmarked for the Montecito Library unless an additional $100,000 was raised by local residents. FOML entered into an agreement with the County to raise this amount and did so in a little over four months.  The County’s funds were released and a year later the renovation was completed and the building opened in October 1980.  The building also houses the Montecito Association offices.

Library staff

Just prior to the opening Georgia Young was hired as librarian.  One of her first jobs was to supervise the movement of the library collection from the storefront across the street to the newly renovated quarters. This was done by hand with the help of many generous volunteers who made numerous trips back and forth across the street.
Georgia was much beloved as our community librarian and she stayed with the library until she retired 17 years later.

Current staff includes Librarian Jody Thomas.

FOML’s role today

The FOML consists of dues paying members and a Board of Directors.  Its mission continues to be the raising of funds to support the library by improving its collection, services and setting.  The Friends played an important role in computerizing the library filing system and patron registration.  FOML is active is funding supplementing staff salaries, acquisition of new books, office machinery, summer programs and much more. In the last year the decrease in library funds from the state and county would have resulted in severely reduced hours. FOML contibutes funds for part-time staff to allow the library to continue to be open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm.