Ten Years and Counting for La Crescenta Library

On its tin/aluminum anniversary, the La Crescenta Library hosts a day of festivities.

Photos provided by La Crescenta Library
Librarian Marta Wiggins, center, with her staff oversaw the festivities celebrating the 10th anniversary of the La Crescenta Library.

By Sabrina SHELTON

For those who have lived in the Crescenta Valley for a few decades, it might be hard to remember how the corner of Foothill Boulevard and La Crescenta Avenue used to look. There once was a modest library that, tucked up on the hill in the 4500 block of La Crescenta Avenue, was often overcrowded due to its small footprint. And then the library gods decided to smile on the modest facility and give it a much deserved expansion and update. That was 10 years ago and, on Saturday, the La Crescenta Library celebrated its milestone anniversary.

The day was packed with activities, speakers and entertainment. Annie Banannie started off the fun with balloon storytelling and craft time. Then Mike Lawler of the Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley led a tour through the library, covering the history of La Crescenta and its library services. He also discussed the significance of the artwork and giant medallion in the floor of the entrance lobby.

A chocolate cake was served to guests

The people featured on the medallion represent the three periods of man in the Crescenta Valley: first there is the Tongva period represented by Toypurina, a medicine woman and a supporter of the rebellion against the mission San Gabriel, followed by the Spanish Era represented by José María Verdugo and then the Americanization of the area represented by Dr. Benjamin Briggs. After the extensive tour, CVHS’s jazz band performed for the celebrants while they enjoyed a celebratory cake.

Marta Wiggins, the community library manager, has been a librarian since 2006 and remembers the expansion in 2010.

Annie Banannie started the festivities off with balloon fun

“[My] learning curve [was] meeting the demands of a busy library in an engaged community. My goal then was to establish partnerships and build relationships with our Friends of the Library and community stakeholders,” she said.

In a month, the library averages about 15,000 customer visits, which breaks down to about 500 people on any given day with Wednesdays usually being the busiest days. The new library also boasts about 15,000 square feet, so meeting the demands of hundreds of people per day has proved manageable over the years. With the extra space came a large community room, group study rooms, and more seating throughout the library. The Friends of the La Crescenta Library Bookstore also has a space to sell donated books and raise funds. They provide about  $15,000 to $20,000 additional funding each year with roughly 65% of those funds raised through the bookstore. 

Friends of the La Crescenta Library were recognized for their contributions

“[The] La Crescenta Library has really become a cornerstone of the community,” Wiggins said. “We are heavily used by … families, senior citizens, young adults. We are a vibrant after school center, we have college students who use the library for studying; we serve people from all walks of life.”

The upstairs community room is exceedingly popular and at times has competing demands for use of the space. Over 15 organizations host meetings, events, camps and workshops throughout the year.

For the future, the plans are ever-growing. 

The award-winning CVHS jazz band

“We plan to continue our programming slate, working with our community partners, and adapting as opportunities arise and needs express themselves,” said Wiggins.

The adult services librarian has plans for more digital literacy programs, while the teen services librarian is looking forward to working with teens on relevant programming for them.  And the children’s services librarian will continue to craft programs that are fun and engaging for the younger set. 

In an increasingly digital world, the library still remains relevant. More than just books (which includes a digital library), the library is a community center and safe space. Wiggins also has one more big plan for the future of the library.

“I want to have every single resident in La Crescenta walk through our doors,” she said, “because we are offering something that they see as adding value to their lives.”