Corona Del Mar Library: A “Storied” Tale

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By Robyn Grant | NB Indy

The story of the Corona del Mar Library started in the mid-1940s. The expanding Corona del Mar population required a library closer than Balboa Library, the original location of the main City library.

The Library was first housed in a Corona del Mar storefront at the corner of Goldenrod and Pacific Coast Highway for the monthly rent of $45.

By the early 1950s, the Library needed more space. A plan emerged to incorporate the Library into the already planned construction of an addition to Ensign School. During Ensign’s construction, the Library moved from the Goldenrod storefront to a house at 501 Dahlia Street, across the street from Corona del Mar Elementary School.

According to long-time City Librarian Dorothea Sheely, “It wasn’t long before the bathtub was full of books, and extra space became paramount.”

Construction of Ensign School completed in 1956 and the Library moved in and opened for business.

At the same time, a grassroots resident group, the Friends of the Newport Beach Public Library, emerged to friendraise/fundraise for a new permanent library building in Corona del Mar.

The Friends hosted literary events and evenings of lecture, dance and music and actively sought individual and corporate sponsors.

A significant donation by resident Dorothy Furnace of two parcels on Narcissus Avenue was not large enough for the proposed construction, so the parcels were sold gleaning $17,000 of the $29,000 required to build the library.

On July th, 1959, the new Corona del Mar Library opened at its present location at 420 Marigold Avenue. Vice-Mayor Charles Hart, State Librarian Carma Leigh, City Librarian Dorothea Sheely and City Manager Robert Shelton, among others, attended the dedication.

Less than 10 years later, in 1968, once again to address growing community needs, the City purchased an adjacent lot between the Library and the fire station and added 2,000 more square feet to the Library.

Most recently, in 2009, the Library received a much-needed refurbishment. Currently the smallest of the four City branches, the library has an intimate, comfortable interior and provides not only books but also computers, community programming (Preschool and Toddler Storytimes literally overflow out of the building) and a welcome respite for residents and visitors alike.

The newest chapter in the story of the library is presently unfolding.

The City plans to construct a new joint-use facility adjacent Fire Station 5. City and Library management are committed to creating a vision for the new library responsive to community needs.

Visit the Newport Beach Public Library homepage (newportbeachlibrary.org) to participate in a short survey and express your views on the project and become part of the Corona del Mar Library “story.”

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