Geraldine Beardsley was 8 years old the first time she walked through the doors of the Seaside library in 1937.

It was a four-mile round trip from her home, Beardsley remembered, to the building then on Broadway near Holla- day and Roosevelt – the location is now an antique store.

From 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday, the library – not the library that Beardsley remembers, but the library she visits now nearly every day – will celebrate its 100th birthday.

There will be balloons, cake and a presentation, and, yes, even a song. The state librarian will be there, too.

Seaside Library Director Esther Moberg is the first to admit that 1935 is really the official year for the library’s anniversary as a public library. 

But before it “went public,” it began as a private library by the Seaside Improvement Club on July 10, 1913.

“As far as I can tell, the library has been in five different places,” said Moberg, who has done some research on the library’s beginnings.

The first location, she said, appeared to be in what was then the Dresser Building, on the northeast corner of Holladay Drive (then Seventh Street) and Broadway. A one-room “reading room,” the library was adja- cent to the public restrooms, also located inside the Dresser Building.

In 1919, the City Council took over the library, even though it was still considered at least quasi-private. The council moved the library to the Sol- diers and Sailors Club Building.

The librarian earned $50 a month in the winter and $75 a month in the summer, when more visitors used the library.

“I’m glad they don’t do that now,” Moberg said.

Finally, in 1935, the City Council passed a resolution establishing the library as a public library, subject to state regulations governing Oregon libraries. This time, the library was moved to the City Hall/Fire Hall, where it remained for 27 years, Moberg said. Some of those who still remember that location recall that the library had spaces upstairs and down- stairs.

That was when Beardsley began going to the library. She said her mother allowed her to check out anything she wanted. One time, the librarian, who was the mother of one of Beardsley’s friends, told Beardsley she could not check out a book because of content the librarian deemed inappropriate.

Recalling the objectionable parts of the book, Beardsley said, “They certainly have worse books now than they did in those days.”

After voters approved a $35,000 bond election and other funds were raised, a new library was built on Roosevelt Drive in 1963. Despite a remodel in 1985 that doubled the library’s size, the library collection and services had out- grown the space by the early 1990s.

When it moved to that location, Beardsley said she would take her then young daughter to visit and check out books.

Beginning in 1998, a search began for a new library loca- tion, and fundraising efforts started. But the potential move – and the money required to make the move -- proved some- what controversial, and it wasn’t until a private donation of $500,000 was made that the project began in earnest.

During that time, the Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District became the beneficiary of a house on Broadway that a local resident had willed to the district. The recreation district sold the house to the city, and enough land was avail- able for a new library.

On Sept. 20, 2008, Mayor Don Larson and then library Director Reita Fackerell cut a ribbon to the new library. Lar- son declared the cool, fall day “very special.”

Instantly, the new library had increased in size from 5,200 square feet to 13,700 square feet. There was a chil- dren’s room, a community meeting room, space for the Friends of the Library to sell books, a cozy area around a fireplace and enough space for 20 people at a time to work on computers.

Over the years, Beardsley said, access has greatly improved. From being able to get new books just a couple days after they are published to the computers offered at the library, information is much more at hand.

Since the library moved into its new building, Beardsley said one of her favorite parts of the building is the children’s area, where young visitors learn to read and take part in arts and crafts.

“(The children) are so enter- taining to watch,” Beardsley said. “I would think people would go in there just to watch them.”

In 1936, the library had a circulation of 1,214 books.

Now, with a circulation of 130,777 books, DVDs, e- books and other items, today’s Seaside Public Library is sec- ond only on the coast to the Bandon Library for checkouts per capita. Seaside averages 19.71 items per capita, while Bandon’s is 20.4 items.

In 1936, library patrons signed up for 282 cards. Sea- side Public Library’s card- holders today number 5,800.

The library’s budget has also grown – from $1,000 in 1919 to $573,566 this year.

It has become more than a reading room. It has become a place to go to hear authors speak, play in monthly trivia tournaments, participate in arts and crafts, watch movies, hear lectures about the local envi- ronment, laugh during puppet shows, share writing projects with other writers and learn about a variety of topics through numerous presenta- tions.

Beardsley said she does not read much fiction anymore, but she visits the library every day to read the newspaper and mag- azines.

“I loved the library always,” Beardsley said. “I loved it in the early days, and I love it now.” 

  

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