Tustinís First Library Opened in 1890

by Juanita Lovret
Reprinted courtesy of the Tustin News

When the new 32,400-square-foot replacement building for the present Tustin library is completed, (in 2010) it will be the ninth home for the almost 120-year-old library.

According to Tustin historian Carol Jordan, the library first opened in 1890 in the school house. Serving the school children and residents of Tustin, it had a count of 1,576 books in 1906. When Tustin Grammar School opened in 1914 on C St., these books were moved to a reading room. The Orange County Public Library System took over the reading room and opened it to the public in 1924.

Hazel Gowdy became the first paid librarian in 1926 and remained until 1959. Most long-time Tustin residents remember her fondly. A small woman whose gray hair constantly escaped its bun, she never failed to greet each patron warmly, suggesting new books or locating old favorites.

She was especially kind to children, always willing to leave her desk and search for a book that suited each childís individual interest and reading ability. Many who were children then now credit her with their love for reading.

When the Reading Room was badly damaged during the 1933 earthquake, the library moved to its third location, a tiny office at the rear of the First National Bank, facing D St. (El Camino Real). Carolyn Campbell, a library board member, called the new location for which her husband built shelves to house books salvaged from the reading room, ďA miserable little hole.Ē

The library stayed in this cubbyhole until 1938. At that time Mrs. Gowdy and others in the community lobbied for better quarters with the result that the library moved to its fourth location, a 1914 building at 130 W. Main St., formerly a drug store. The Chamber of Commerce, businesses and individuals donated materials and money for tables, benches, magazine racks and shelves made by the Tustin High School shop classes under the direction of Orville Northrup.

In 1946 the library left this location to move four doors to the west for its fifth location into the building that now houses Rutabegorz. In 1950, the library went to its sixth home, the City of Tustin Annex on Third Street. In addition to the library, this facility housed the fire department, police, city government and a court room that doubled as a meeting place for the city council.

Eight years later the library was on the move again, this time to its seventh location on Newport Boulevard at Andrews Place. Although this building was enlarged in 1963, it became too small for the number of people served, and in 1976 an eighth move was made to the present 13,000-square-foot location in the Civic Center.

To meet the current needs of Tustinís expanded population, the new $30 million library will include 100 computer stations, a plaza where people can gather, a homework center, expanded collections, including books, DVDs, books on CD and recorded music as well as expanded Spanish and Asian language collections.


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