Have you ever gone back to a former home that has been remodeled only to ask, “What were they thinking?”
That didn’t happen when Jude Sanner Long, who spent 24 years as branch manager of the Morro Bay Public Library, was asked to by Robert “Red” Davis, president of the Morro Bay Friends of the Library, to be Mistress of Ceremonies at the library’s grand reopening March 1 from 2 to 4 p.m. (See event details at www.mbfol.org or ask current branch manager Jackie Kinsey, 772-6394.)
“Oh my goodness! It is brilliant,” said Long, in describing the remodel.
Although she was actively involved in the more than $500,000 fund development campaign, she avoided participating in remodeling plans. “The look will totally surprise the community. The old-fashioned institution is transformed to flow with maximum use of space and good lighting,” she said.
Long joined the Morro Bay Public Library in 1975. She became branch manager in 1985. “The library was on Morro Bay Boulevard across from what is Sunshine Market today,” she said.
The building was once a pool hall, she noted. Checking out books was done by signature. Patrons thumbed through large card catalogues to find available titles, and “if books ordered came within a month patrons were happy,” she added.
The most popular books were westerns, romances and anything about World War II, Long recalled. “I remember a bride and groom came into the library in their wedding clothes looking for an appropriate reception toast. We were the place to find all information before the Internet. How to get a divorce and baby names were in high demand. People would call from bars trying to settle bets.”
Long believes libraries are the only place children and adults are treated as equals. Children have their own library cards, books, programs and section. “I know the library was the first place I was allowed to walk to by myself,” she said.
Long’s career ushered in the computer age with computerized catalogues in 1985. Patrons could check out their own books starting in 2005. Today patrons can check out movies, do Internet research, seek employment, check personal email — even borrow online books.
“People expect faster service and more access today,” said Long, who retired in 2009. She thinks the library is actually the largest recycling center. Books on the shelf stay there as the market demands. “Staff is constantly recycling what to buy, keep, shelve or pull off to make more room.”
According to Long, the library exists because of a longstanding public partnership between the county and city, augmented by significant support from library patrons and an active Friends group.
In retirement, she keeps busy as a board member for the Foundation for San Luis Obispo County Public Libraries and Morro Bay Rotary.