Libraries Round the World: Laguna Beach

This Southern Californian picturesque library is in the artsy, now ritzy, Laguna Beach. Originally called Lagonas, a Spanish name for two lagoons in Laguna Canyon, it was renamed Laguna Beach in 1904. Located in Orange County, home to Disneyland, it’s about an hour south of Los Angeles. 

The cliffside beach town has been home to people for thousands of years. A Paleoindian woman’s skull, appropriately named the Laguna Woman, was found in the 1930s. And she was born around 11,000 B.P., aka years before present. And it’s been popular ever since. Who can resist such natural beauty and great weather?

Artists, including modern-day filmmakers, moved here in the 1920s. The town was isolated and hard to reach until 1926, when the Pacific Coast Highway, known as PCH, was built. But locals, called Lagunatics (what a name!), thought way ahead and set some small-town environmental protections. Details matter. Even the concrete barriers for the walking street in town are creative and fun.

The library has been around for 50 years and still enjoys a great view of the beach. A pair of friendly librarians welcomed us to the recently reopened library. But how can anyone read with that view? Surf’s up!

And there are multiple rows of books to choose from. What a joy to return to a reopened library that allows browsing again! That library-loving masked blogger was caught lurking in the kid’s aquarium of books. 

The library has a magical fairy and blooming butterfly garden. You can leave a message for the fairies, and supposedly, they will write you back. So next time, I’m asking, “Can you find me a cheap writer’s studio for a few months?”

The library has an innovatively creative way to obtain extra donations. Art at work!

And how about that inviting outdoor deck? This library is a fantastic home away from home for curling up with a good read!

Downstairs the library has a used bookstore run by the Friends of the Laguna Beach library. Perfect for out-of-towners without a library card. They typically have lots of events, but with Covid still lingering, the bookshop was closed. 

Outside the library are some of the prettiest benches I’ve ever seen. Functional public art serves a purpose, pretties up the area, and lightens your mood. More, please!

The beach, called Main Beach, was popular over Memorial Day weekend. You can see why with its picture-perfect crescent view.

Californians are known for being healthy and sporty. Beach volleyball, a fun way to exercise, does both!

Laguna is also home to the Atlantic Marine Mammal Center, which is celebrating 50 years of operations. They rescue and rehab injured mammals for release back into the wild. Mammals include California sea lions, Northern elephant seals, Pacific harbor seals, and fur seals. 

Their website provides details on current mammalian patients and what brought them there. Hopefully, they are back out frolicking in the Pacific soon. Here’s the link: www.pacificmmc.org/current-patients

Other mammal rescue centers are located along the coasts. I can recommend one on the Jersey Shore in Brigantine and another in Marin County outside San Francisco. So if you are headed to the beach this summer, look into it. They can use our support! And can we get a seal water slap or a grunt for this very patriotic American seal statue spiffed up for Memorial Day weekend?

And if you are worried about dipping a big toe and the rest of your body into the vast blue ocean and getting swept out to sea, they’ve got you covered. A jeep with some volunteers was on stand-by when I was there. Their motto: Have Surfboard, Will Paddle!

Or you might be tempted to phone home and tell everyone how fabulous this place is for your next vacation! Octopuses are intelligent can recognize human faces, and this one camouflaged itself in matching red. A bribe to use the phone might work. Keep in mind that all eight legs have their own brain so bring extras. 

Once on a scuba dive, I carefully held a small octopus before the divemaster returned the baby to its coral wall niche. So adorable! On my to-watch-on-TV list is the new Netflix feature film My Octopus Teacher. It took 8 years to make and won the 2021 Oscar for best documentary feature. 

What better way to end a visit to Laguna’s beachy paradise than with the bird of paradise? These plants-flowers grow everywhere and are designated as LA’s floral emblem. But here’s the twist. This plant-flower is originally from a faraway paradise in Southern Africa. When beautiful flowers surround us, paradise is everywhere.

Karen Stensgaard is a traveling novelist and library lover. Her third book, Project Onion, has been delayed due to technical issues. We are up to four proof copies and still counting. When you battle with Amazon, guess who wins? But Karen is determined to nail this graphic design snafu with the help of her tech-savvy friend next month. Wish her luck!


5 thoughts on “Libraries Round the World: Laguna Beach

  1. Hi CJ, Since authors are supposed to have a website nowadays, I wanted to blog about something. Otherwise, it’s just my books. I like traveling and visiting libraries. They all have their own personality, and I try to post a new one every month. So, this isn’t supposed to be tourist bait, but a fun light read with lots of photos. Perhaps it will encourage more people to go to libraries or let them see one they may never get to! My old college roommate from UT Austin suggested this one, and we really love Laguna. Thanks for the suggestion about the one in Texas! I live in Philly now but spent 13 years in Marin, the East Bay, and the City of San Francisco. So, part of my heart is still there along with some good friends.
    Best, Karen

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t like southern CA at all, but your essay would work as tourist bait for the city as well as the library. I might even drive that far to visit that library some time. I have my own list of libraries in Minnesota’s Twin Cities, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, and the Perry Casteñada library at the University of Texas.
    Are you collecting libraries for fun? for study? for . . . ?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I learned scuba diving right across the street when I lived in Marin county. Never visited that library or the jail! Hope to visit the Bay Area one of these days & beautiful Marin but not the jail!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Someday, I’d like to read your report on the circular library at the Marin County Civic Center | Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation f

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    Liked by 2 people

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