After being closed since December 2021 for modifications, the San Juan Capistrano library reopened to the public on Tuesday, March 7.
Members of the local community, including parents and children, went to the local branch to check out the interior renovations following a reopening ceremony. Kids got to enjoy some story time with their moms, while San Juan residents walked down the halls and observed the updated facility.
The library now has new indoor lighting, more computers, additional space for book clubs to meet, fresh wall paint, new carpeting, and dedicated sections for Spanish language materials. The building’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system has also been updated.
The restoration reportedly cost more than $2 million.
Hilary Keith, president of the San Juan Friends of the Library Bookstore next door, called the renovations “a remarkable change.”
“I think it’s a good thing. It took a little too long, but I think everyone’s saying that,” Keith said. “It was well worth it. The community’s sure happy.”
People kept asking about the library during the temporary closure when they walked into the bookstore, Keith said.
“I’m glad they invested in (the update),” Keith said. “They needed to. It’s a beautiful building. It’s more open. More lighting. Before, it was so dark and cavernous in there. It was difficult to get work done, I think. Now, it’s brighter and more cheerful. It will attract more people.”
Orange County Fifth District Supervisor Katrina Foley gave the main remarks during the opening ceremony and recapped the history of the library.
“The doors opened here in 1921, and it was the first public building built in San Juan Capistrano, and one of the first county libraries,” Foley said. “From 1921 to 1937, the library provided vital community and adult education services during the Depression. The library remained a constant in the community, serving through World War II, the Korean War, and all the way to today.”
The library was originally at a downtown adobe and has been in its current location at 31495 El Camino Real since 1983, Foley said.
“We all know the architect, Michael Graves, a very famous architect,” Foley said. “The architectural movements and what the county staff have done to enhance what was already great architecture and restore some of the beautiful fixtures, the lighting fixtures, is just exquisite.”
The library is overseen by Orange County Public Libraries and was originally built for $800,000.
The renovations were “a $2 million investment that we’ll get a great return on,” Foley said.
“This library has everything. It’s a regional library,” Foley said. “One of the things I love about our regional libraries is if you want to check out a book or order something that’s not available here, the library system works in such a way that you can get it from any of our libraries, and we can deliver it right here for your convenience.”
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