Summer days in Santa Monica are way too gorgeous to stay cooped up inside. Sometimes, when the scent of saltwater and seaweed is on the wind, and the sun is shimmering off the waves you can hear the Pacific calling you. This year a few of us beach-loving librarians are heeding that call, packing up some books and setting up shop on the shore for a series of five, beachside “pop-up” libraries. We’re calling the program “Santa Monica Public Library at the Beach” (it sounds like what it is!) and our mission is to get out of the library and into the sunshine to spread some love to folks who might never set foot in our buildings.

Our pop-ups will bring a miniature, beachified version of our world-class library to two prime locations along Santa Monica’s famous waterfront; Dorothy Green Park (where Ocean Park Boulevardmeets the sea) on Saturday, July 18, and Aug.15, and the Annenberg Community Beach House on Friday, July 24, and Aug.28.

The sun-kissed heart of Santa Monica Public Library at the Beach is a curated collection of books for readers of all ages and tastes. We have everything from picture books for preschoolers to pulpy graphic novels, steamy romances, and highbrow literary classics. No library card? No problem! Anyone who stops by can sign out a book; no library card, ID or even shoes required. Reading a good book on a beautiful beach is one of life’s simple pleasures, and we want to give everyone the chance to try it. To make your beach reading experience as awesome as humanly possible, we created a “Surfside Reading Lounge” with umbrellas and beach chairs so you can relax and grab some shade while you enjoy your book.

A modern library is a whole lot more than a well cataloged warehouse full of books; we have crafts, concerts, classes and a variety of free programs for people of all ages. We’re bringing sunny editions of some of these activities to the beach with us including: Seaside Story Time for Kids led by our Youth Services librarians, Hula Hooping lessons to tone your beach bod and shake the sand out, nautical crafts, and interactive, educational programs presented by our friends at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium and Heal the Bay.

We’re also proud to introduce our brand new South Beach Reads Book Discussion Group for adults. South Beach Reads will be led by Ocean Park Branch Manager Karen Reitz and meets on Saturday, July 18th at noon to discuss Beautiful Ruins by Jesse Walters and at noon on Saturday, Aug.15, to discuss “Where’d You Go Bernadette” by Maria Semple. Copies of both books are available at our pop up and regular library locations.

For beachgoers looking to learn more about everything Santa Monica Library has to offer, our librarians will be around to answer questions, demonstrate cutting edge mobile apps, eBooks, and streaming media, and register people for library cards. Speaking of library cards; anybody signing up for one will receive a free, super stylish Santa Monica Public Library beach tote!

Our kick off at the Annenberg Community Beach House last month was a huge hit. Dozens of happy beachgoers stopped by to browse our stacks, relax in our reading lounge, make pinwheels and shake their hips during an authentic Hawaiian hula dancing lesson. If this sounds like fun, then grab your towel and sunscreen and meet us on the beach from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. on:

  • Saturday, July 18 on the beach at Dorothy Green ParkFriday
  • July 24 at the Annenberg Community Beach House, 415 Pacific Coast Hwy
  • Saturday, August 15 on the beach at Dorothy Green Park
  • Friday, August 28 at the Annenberg Community Beach House, 415 Pacific Coast Hwy

So bike, skate, blade, surf or just walk on down and join us! At Santa Monica Public Library at the Beach, we promise not to shush you. For more info visit smpl.org/beach.

Looking for some excellent Beach Reads this summer? Check out “Beautiful Ruins” by Jesse Walters, “Where’d You Go Bernadette” by Maria Semple or “A Visit From the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan.

Jeff Kaplan and Kane Tsay are Santa Monica Public Library at the Beach captains.

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