Story Hour, 1956
Story Hour at the Pacific Grove Public Library, 1956

The Friends of the Pacific Grove Public Library incorporated as a non-profit in 1974 after City Librarian Margaret McBride first envisioned a local group to support the Library.

Mrs. McBride believed that “…the community should be allowed and encouraged to become more involved in library activities; that we at the library ought to do more to make known what services we already have to offer and investigate the possibilities of expanding our services.”

Fifty years later the Friends have contributed hundreds of thousands of donated dollars, tens of thousands of volunteer hours and decades of advocacy and promotion.

The first Friends book sale was held in April 1974 and soon there were 100 members. The Friends brought library services for shut-ins, supported a Library parcel tax measure (which sadly failed to pass,) then advocated for a federally funded Library expansion.

Over the next three decades, working with Mrs. McBride and Library Director Bobbie Morrison, the Friends continued fundraising and promoting the Library to the community. In 2006 the Friends supported another Library expansion to meet growing community needs. Although that effort failed, the Friends kept raising funds and speaking up for the Library.

In 2010, and 2012, in response to drastic City budget cuts and the threat of library closure, the Friends again advocated for a Library parcel tax. Unfortunately, both times the tax failed to achieve the 66.66% approval rate required. Community outcry saved the Library from closure, but with greatly reduced hours and services.

In 2013 a significant bequest led the Friends to establish the Pacific Grove Public Library Foundation as a separate 501c3 nonprofit, ensuring the Library’s long-term viability through prudent financial investment and legacy giving.

Beginning in 2013 the Friends supported a community survey and the vision of a renewed library – from refurbishment of its century old Carnegie library building to more programs and services – led by Library Director Steven Silveria. In 2015 the Friends funded returning a staff storage area to public space (an art gallery/meeting space with original wood floors) as an example of what might be possible.

The Renewal Project goals were to preserve the community’s past, enhance present use and prepare for the future. As project ideas grew, in 2017 the Friends and Foundation began a Capital Campaign, ultimately raising over $3 million from donors, foundations, and the City.

Work began in 2019, and was completed in 2021, on time and within the budget, despite the 2020 pandemic. The historic Carnegie rotunda was restored, public spaces (including restrooms, electrical supply and lighting) were upgraded and staff areas modernized.

The pandemic’s economic downturn meant layoffs and a quarantine service “pause.” Recognizing these extraordinary circumstances, the Friends funded one-year of children’s services; the Foundation funded a year of circulation services. As the pandemic ebbed, and the City’s economy improved, the City began restoring staff and services.

The Friends and Foundation then supported Library Director Diana Godwin’s vision to restore and expand services and community programming. The Friends raised funds for an electric outreach vehicle, increased summer reading and teen programs, and access to local history, while continuing annual support for new books and library materials.

The success of the Renewal Project included significant contributions from local donors such as the Russell family for the original Carnegie Rotunda. The Rock and Laws families soon followed, supporting children’s services and local history for years to come.

In 2022 the Friends and Foundation Boards decided to combine their efforts into one nonprofit, to better support their shared mission, streamline operations and more effectively serve their 500+ members and donors. The consolidation was complete in 2023.

Today the Pacific Grove Public Library Friends and Foundation is stronger than ever and excited about the future. With the help of our members, donors and volunteers we look forward to at least another 50 years of supporting the Pacific Grove Public library and our community.