A Truly Unique Partnership
Many positive adjectives have been applied to the Rancho Santa Fe Library over the years—cozy, delightful, charming, beautiful, cheerful and peaceful. But did you know the Ranch Library is truly a unique partnership between the community and the County of San Diego?
In the early 1930s, Louise Badger, one of the earliest residents of this sleepy North Count village, opened a soda fountain in a large, airy building in the heart of town on Paseo Delicias. Mrs. Badger converted a large closet into a County Library with five shelves, for which the county paid $10 per month for rent and changed the entire stock of books out four times a year.
For a small town with 90 families, it was a suitable arrangement and the library flourished for the next 16 years. When Mrs. Badger sold her business, the County Bookmobile became the local source of reading material, parking under a eucalyptus tree in town one afternoon a week.
In the early 1960s, the Fire Protection District and the local Rotary Club chose a new community service project and provided the first structure to house the Rancho Santa Fe Library on the corner of Paseo Delicias and La Granada. Alice Ewing rented her building to the county for $150 per month and the Fire Chief Fox and his fellow Rotarians renovated the building.
In 1963, residents wanted their own large library in a permanent structure. Helen Weddell spearheaded the drive for community funding, and formed the Rancho Santa Fe Library Guild. The Superintendent of Schools, Roger Rowe, conferred with his school board and promptly sold one-third acre of school land to the Library Guild for the amazing sum of one dollar. The site was ideal, located on a main street, close to the village and next door to the growing school.
The drive was on and two enthusiastic residents, Arthur Lindberg and EJ Evans, launched a fundraising campaign asking 13 friends to each donate $5,000 toward the new library building. The group was known as “The Fabulous Fifteen” for the remainder of the names were never revealed. The Library Guild then established Charter Memberships ranging from $5 to $100, and 210 families contributed to the $150,000 goal.
In 1968, with no mortgage, bond issue or federal subsidy, the Rancho Santa Fe Library opened in its permanent location on Avenida de Acacias. As the Library Guild continued to grow, so did the building. Additions were made to the original “browsing room”; the Guild Room, Reference Room and the Garden Room all were built in rapid succession. The Children’s Room soon followed.
In 1984, an addition known as the Community Room was added which included a kitchen. The most recent expansion of the building was in 1990 with the construction of the two story wing made possible by the generosity of Howard Glasgow in memory of his wife Martha . The Martha Glasgow Children’s Library Wing houses an additional large room for the Children’s Library and below, space for the Book Cellar and the Guild office.
Today, the Guild owns the land and the building and provides funds for staffing, programming and materials above and beyond the county budget. The Guild maintains the library building and the grounds. Sources of income supporting the Guild are membership dues, income from the successful used bookstore The Book Cellar, community grants from local organizations such as the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation, and grants and gifts from community and Guild members. The County pays the Guild for the use of the building, and both the County and the Rancho Santa Fe community have maintained their compatible partnership with the Guild.
The volunteer system for the Guild has grown and makes it possible for The Book Cellar to be open six days a week. The Library Guild Board of Directors works to maintain a balance of budget and fundraising to keep the library grounds maintained and the building up to date. The Guild also works closely with County staff and provides funds for additional programming for youth and adults, increased staffing and materials.