OAKHURST – Friends of the Oakhurst Branch Library (FOBL) invite the community to visit for a Completion Celebration on Wednesday, June 12, at 4 p.m.
The reception marks the opening of the library following an expansion which began last fall.
“Share our pride!” say organizers. “Take a tour of our main library, children’s room, new community room, staff lounge and FOBL book-sorting and storage areas.” The grand welcome begins at 4 p.m. with activities for kids in the main library and piano selections by Barbara Ulman played in the new community room.
Presentations begin at 5 p.m. with FOBL President Candace Flammang making special remarks, along with a moment from former FOBL President Dr. Angelo Pizelo, and finally Supervisor Tom Wheeler of Madera County District 5.
The ribbon cutting ceremony is set for 5:30 p.m. followed by refreshments. Self-guided tours are available throughout the event. Be sure to pick up a printed guide map.
Part of the remodel transformed the old adjacent fire station into a new community room.
“The library was built in 1970, and so was the fire station,” said FOBL President Flammang. “The idea for this expansion was included in the building’s original design.
Back then, planners understood that rural communities needed libraries and fire stations,” continues Flammang, “so they built them together, knowing either the library or the fire station would outgrow the space as the community grew. One would move out and one would expand into the remaining space.”
For more than a decade, FOBL has been raising money for that planned expansion, annually contributing to the building fund. Approximately $150,000 was amassed over ten years; about two-thirds of that amount was raised by selling books donated to the library or culled from its collection.
In 2010, the Oakhurst branch library received a United States Department of Agriculture grant and was awarded $200,000 as part of the “Shovel Ready” American Restoration and Recovery Act (ARRA), sometimes referred to as Federal stimulus money. The grant was one of only two given in the state, and the Oakhurst branch was the only public library to receive the stimulus.
“The library was so cramped with books and people,” says Flammang, “we felt we had to do something. With help from the Madera County Resource Management Agency, the old fire station qualified for USDA grant set aside for rural community facilities.”
Retaining the shell of the old attached firehouse while doing an interior remodel, the finished area includes a space for book processing, which is good news for volunteers. The library’s new community room has two ADA-approved bathrooms.
FOBL wishes to recognize and thank a host of individuals “in appreciation of your guidance, assistance, and continuing support of our vision and goals.” Those major players will be acknowledged at the Completion Celebration.
The library is located at 49044 Civic Circle, in Oakhurst