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Rancho Santa Fe Library Guild launches Redo the Roof Campaign because of water related damage caused by rainstorms. Photo by Christina Macone-Greene
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Library Guild asks for community’s help with roof campaign

RANCHO SANTA FE — For decades, the Rancho Santa Fe Library has undergone roof patching and repairs. Despite these efforts, the heavy rains have soaked through the roof damaging books and the library’s interior from water damage. The hardest hit has been the Children’s Library.

The Rancho Santa Fe Library Guild decided it was time to launch its Redo the Roof Campaign.

“Our biggest concern we have right now, particularly with the amount of rain that we have had, is that our little 50-year-old roof is not holding up very well, and we have patched for years,” Sara Shafer, Rancho Santa Fe Library Guild executive director, said.

In 2017, the Children’s Library, located on the upper level, lost hundreds of books with an estimated loss of more than $2,000 in picture books.  

“We lost more children’s books this year,” Susan Appleby, the guild’s associate director, said. “It seems like if there is a storm with a lot of water it creates new cracks into the repairs.”

According to Appleby, the Children’s Library recently sustained about $3,500 worth of damage which included brand new books. Hundreds of books were damaged, and the county cannot replace those books due to budget constraints.

Once books are water damaged they are destroyed because of paper decay. There is no way of saving them.

Rancho Santa Fe Library faces thousands of dollars in damaged children’s books after rainstorms. Courtesy photo

Appleby said the county of San Diego does not own the Rancho Santa Fe Library building.

“The building itself is owned by the guild, and it’s our responsibility that we maintain the building, we maintain the grounds, and lease it to the library,” Appleby said.

While the main building is 50 years old, over the years, other parts of the building were added on such as the Children’s Library. Even though the roof is inspected every year and repairs have been made, water always finds a way in.

“I would say there are several people holding their breath every time it rains,” Appleby said.

There have instances when a guild volunteer makes a beeline to the library after hours during a rainstorm to place towels down to absorb some of the water leaking in the interior.  

While the guild is in the process of receiving more roof repair estimates, the first one rolled in at $105,000.  

“We sent out a letter to all of our guild members at the end of January telling them what the problem was and asking them to come alongside us and make a donation for a new roof. We have received a very strong response and so far we’ve raised to date about $65,000,” Shafer said.

Appleby said one person gave a generous gift of $40,000.

“The gift was in memory of her husband who loved this library,” said Appleby, adding that other donations have ranged from $3 and more. “We had another generous donation for $5,000 — we really have been pretty overwhelmed by the response.”

Appleby explained that around 10 percent of the guild membership has already participated in the Redo the Roof Giving Campaign.

“We have a participation goal, but we believe that the library is a community resource, and it’s in every community member’s best interest to support this library in whatever way is appropriate for them,” Appleby said.

Shafer was quick to point out that they welcome all donations no matter the amount.

“Our donations come in all shapes and sizes, and every dollar helps,” Shafer said. “We will not stop fundraising until we get to our new roof goal.”

To learn more about the Redo the Roof Campaign, visit or call (858) 756-4780.