After a century of acting as an educational and social hub for the Santa Monica community, the Ocean Park Library will be celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. To commemorate the occasion, the Santa Monica Conservancy and the Ocean Park Association are co-sponsoring an event on the library grounds on March 23, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. The event will provide guests with refreshments, music, games, a photo booth and various arts and crafts.
Completed in 1918, the Ocean Park Library — located on the corner of Ocean Park Boulevard and Main Street — was financed by Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish-American industrialist who was known for his philanthropic projects. While Carnegie financed over 2,500 libraries in his day, the Ocean Park Library is one of the final few still-functioning Carnegie libraries left standing in Southern California.
From children’s story time sessions to meditation classes to film screenings, the Ocean Park Library is known for hosting a wide array of events year-round to appeal to the diverse demographic of Santa Monica residents. Since its opening one hundred years ago, the library has served the community with both its vast collection of novels and its giving spirit. As early as World War II, the library proved its significance and usefulness to the community. During the war, the library’s basement acted as a Young People’s room, providing the city’s youth with a safe space to do homework, play games and read books.
On May 3, 1977, the City of Santa Monica Landmarks Commission officially designated the Ocean Park Branch Library as a historical landmark. In the years since, renovations have been made to modernize the space and make it more accessible to any and all visitors; the most recent constructional enhancements were done between February 18 and March 10. These restorations include teenage and children’s sections, handicap access, new signage and other interior improvements.
“This lovely Carnegie building represents all that is special about Santa Monica and our community commitment to reading and learning. The Ocean Park Branch has played a significant role in the Library’s response to the community’s needs by providing carefully selected popular materials and acting as neighborhood hub… Thousands of people use the meeting room to create community, make use of the public computers, listen to a story, or learn something new,” says Patty Wong, Director of Library Services of the Santa Monica Public Library.
Amongst the March 23 festivities, Santa Monica Conservancy volunteers will be leading free tours of the 1897 Shotgun house on Second Street, which has acted as a Preservation Resource Center since January 2016. Conservancy volunteers will also be assisting visitors to build origami houses as a tribute to the architectural importance of both the Ocean Park Library and the Shotgun house.