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R S V P / ORANGE COUNTY : Fullerton Library Bash Is Truly One for the Books

February 06, 1996|KATHRYN BOLD

Book lovers gathered Saturday for the latest chapter in the Fullerton Public Library's history: a glitzy 90th anniversary bash staged by the library foundation.

"90 Years of Adventure: The Magic Continues" was the theme of the dinner, which took place at the new Wilshire Court catering and banquet facility in old town Fullerton. The $100-per-person benefit, which included performances by magician David Thorsen and Mike Sharp's Balboa Brass Sextet, was expected to net about $40,000 for the library.

First for Fullerton

The library's anniversary party proved a hot ticket. Organizers had to refund $2,000 worth of tickets to people who had to be turned away (a list that included three former Fullerton mayors).

Planners decided to keep the number at 175 guests rather than move to a larger venue outside of Fullerton.

"We wanted to keep this party in Fullerton. It was very important to us," said Vivian Lim, gala chairwoman.

Many guests were longtime Fullerton residents who said this was the glitziest affair the city had ever seen. To hear some of them talk, practically everyone in town pitched in to make the night a success.

Dorian Hunter, a local interior designer, helped turned the banquet hall into a glittering showplace with streamers of Mylar covering the ceiling and gold and silver stars shining on the walls.

Fullerton florists created centerpieces using fresh flowers to match the magenta, teal, silver and gold color scheme. Restaurateurs from north Orange County prepared a banquet that included assorted pastas, carved roast beef, chili and salads. Collette's prepared the four-tiered chocolate cake with hazelnut cream filling.

Library Patrons

Among those attending were the library's longtime supporters. However, Tommy Lasorda and his wife, Jo, honorary chairs, were no-shows; Lasorda had another awards ceremony to attend.

Margaret Parks, the tireless octogenarian who has been a member and president of the Friends of the Fullerton Library support group since its founding 34 years ago and who also serves on the board of the Fullerton Library Authority, described the library when she moved to Fullerton 58 years ago. Back then, she said, the library was housed in what is now the Fullerton Museum Center and served a town of just 10,000 people.

"Fullerton was a beautiful city surrounded by orange groves. You felt you knew everybody. Now we have 120,000 people living here. The library has grown like everything else."

Fred Mason, founding president of the foundation, described some of the library's more unusual holdings:

"There's a set of world almanacs that date back to 1907," he said. "And a set of books that have more than 2 million names of immigrants who came to the U.S. in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

"It's a good library. Here in Fullerton it has the status of motherhood and apple pie. People feel real strongly about it."

History Lesson

Founded in 1906, the library was actually a small collection of books belonging to William Starbucks and shelved in the Starbucks' Gem Pharmacy. The first library was built in 1907 with funds from the Carnegie Foundation. Over the years, the library kept moving and expanding to ever larger sites to keep pace with the rapid growth of the town.

Carolyn Johnson, a Fullerton librarian for 45 years before retiring, began working at the library's museum location in 1945.

"The library's social events were the social events" of Fullerton, said Johnson, who attended with her husband, Ben.

In 1973 the library moved to its current location: a 45,000-square-foot building adjacent to City Hall, where it now holds 219,256 books, tapes, videos and computer-related technology.

"We went from a pharmacy to the small Carnegie library to the museum to this. We've grown a lot. The library has kept up with the growth of the town wonderfully well," said Dick Foster, incoming foundation board president.

Despite its long history, the library's foundation is just a year old; it was formed to support the library's capital projects. Proceeds from the gala will be used to purchase land for a future branch site on Bastanchury Road, to expand the Children's Library and to enhance the library's information technology.

Faces in the crowd included David and Barbara Gardner, Carl Gregory, Edward and Dede Ginter, Al Milo, Carl and Terri Brick, Carol Bushman, Velda Johnson, Vivian Lim, Ken and Betty Robertson, Walter and Betty Parks, William and Shirley Kincaid, Robert and Louise Lee and Violet Johnson.

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