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Life on California's beautiful Central Coast

Landmark No. 11

Santa Ynez Branch Library

Santa Ynez Branch Library. Photo by me, originally published on edhat

Call it the little branch library that could.

The Santa Ynez Branch Library, at 168 square feet barely larger than your downstairs half bath, celebrates 100 years of serving the reading public this month.

They’re throwing a party to raise money for some improvements to the tinest library in the Black Gold library network, which serves readers from Paso Robles all the way to Santa Paula. 100 years ago, the citizens of Santa Ynez did the same thing, holding a dinner dance at the College Hotel to collect cash and raise the library roof. The College Hotel burned down 1935, but the library still stands.

It’s only open one day a week, on Saturday afternoons, but still manages to attract patrons checking out a good book to pass the time.

Its status as the oldest branch library in the state is a bit of a niche honor. There are many older libraries – the Carmel Mission (1771) claims the first library in the state, started with bibles and books from the Spanish missionaries. They spearheaded their establishment of the mission system from here. San Diego opened its public library in 1882 and was home to the first Carnegie Library in the state in 1902. But as far as branch libraries go, Santa Ynez may have a case. It probably wins some kind of pint-sized award, too.

If you happen to be in the Santa Ynez Valley on Aug. 25, you could stop by for the celebration. Find out more here. And if you’re headed to SY for any reason, here’s a guide I wrote to fun things to do. Don’t miss the Parks Janeway Carriage Museum, right next door to the little library that could.

*The reason this post is called Landmark No. 11 is because the Santa Ynez Branch Library was the 11th designated Santa Barbara County Historic Landmark.


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