RANCHO SANTA FE — Nearly 50 years ago when residents of Rancho Santa Fe asked the county for a library, they were told the community was too small and they would have be happy with visits from the bookmobile.
Rancho Santa Fe has never let being small stand in its way of anything. Fifteen anonymous donors stepped up, each contributing $5,000 toward the cause. The school offered 1/3 acre of land for $1 and on April 18, 1968, the library building was dedicated, said Susan Appleby, manager of marketing and development for the Rancho Santa Fe Library Guild, stewards of the library.
If not for this group of guild volunteers, the library would not be what it is today, a beautiful building surrounded by gorgeous gardens and filled with thousands and thousands of books. It would not offer programs for children and adults. It would not be a center of the community.
Over the years, this group of volunteers has kept the library running smoothly by offering moral and financial support.
“We own the building,” said Mary Liu, president of the board of the guild. “We take care of it like it was our own home.”
The county rents the building from the guild and provides some of the employees. Besides the building maintenance, the guild provides nearly half of the books and audiotapes and some employees.
“Neither the library or the guild could do this by itself,” said Appleby.
The guild’s income comes from fundraisers like its fashion show, from generous donors and estate gifts, but mainly from sales from its used bookstore attached to the library.
One of the favorite past times for avid readers is poking around the guild’s Book Cellar looking for treasures among the second hand books. These books are donations from the libraries of members of the community. Its shelves are jam packed with books of all topics.
“I come here about once a month,” said Holly Manion a customer on a recent day. “You never know what you will find here. It’s very special.”
Because of the downturn in the economy, the county has reduced financial support while the guild tries to take up the slack.
“The county as cut way back,” said Virginia Dewey, a volunteers since 1979.
“We could be doing better,” said Appleby.
“Our programs budget has been cut 83 percent by the County of San Diego since 2009,” said Liu. “In addition, they have cut our book buying and periodical budgets severely.“
What the guild needs are new members, which will help them provide materials and services the community has come to expect, Liu said.
“To continue what we do we need community support.” Appleby said.
Dewey said most of the original guild members have passed and there is a need for new members to pick up the torch.
“People say, I have a library card, doesn’t that make me a member of the guild,” said Appleby.
The answer is “no.”
To join the guild as an individual, the cost is $50 a year. For a family it is $100 a year and for the benefactor level, $500 and up from there.
Other than supporting the library, there are perks for the members such as the “members only,” talks by famous authors like Shilpi Gowda, a local best-selling author of “Secret Daughter,“ on Sept. 23. Another special event is an evening with David Prybil, author of “Golden State,” at 6 p.m. on Oct. 14.
To learn more about the Rancho Santa Fe Library Guild call (858) 756-4780 or visit rsflibraryguild.org.
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