Large crowd shows up for celebration
The Goleta Valley Library on Saturday celebrated its 50th birthday and the retirement of the longtime library director, Allison Gray. These milestones were marked with a family-friendly community celebration which took place from 2-4 pm.
“It went great; we had a huge turnout. Speakers included Second District Supervisor Laura Capps, and Third District Supervisor Joan Hartmann, a representative from Assemblyman Gregg Hart’s office, all the city council members, and the head of the library advisory commission. A huge number of library patrons and former employees were in attendance. Many attendees wore gray in my honor,” Allison Gray, outgoing library director told the News-Press. Ms. Gray estimated about 130-150 were in attendance.
“It was very celebratory. The speakers talked about the importance of libraries to democracy and the importance of this library to the community. All the speakers were kind enough to say things about the changes I made to the library. It was really sort of half a celebration of the 50th birthday of the library and half a celebration of my leadership and the changes I have implemented. I had about an hour before speeches where I got to see a lot of my favorite patrons I haven’t seen for a while. I was thrilled they made the effort to come. There were lots of hugs; it was pretty emotional for me. I’ve had fifteen years of knowing these people. It was very emotional,” Ms. Gray told the News-Press.
“It was a wonderful celebration on so many levels the achievement of Allison and her tenure steadying the ship of that treasure of a library. It was also a celebration of children and the way libraries reinforce that. They are important in society and literacy is important to the community. It was a celebration of the opportunity libraries provide for internet access, learning, and knowledge to those who might not otherwise be able to access them. It is important not to take libraries for granted because they are vital to democracy, open the world and provide knowledge and truth to people … I was honored to be part of the celebration to thank the staff, Allison, and the many volunteers of the Goleta Valley Library,” Second District Supervisor Laura Capps told the News-Press.
“The mayor, on behalf of the city council, read a proclamation and a representative from Assemblyman Hart’s office presented a proclamation from the legislature honoring the library. Third District Supervisor Joan Hartmann also gave a certificate of recognition – one for me, and one for the library. I also received a tile in appreciation of my work from the city of Goleta,” said Ms. Gray. “People told me they loved the staff and felt it was a friendly place to come and it felt very hometown. The library has sophisticated services but is intimate and welcoming. There was also a lot of talk about appreciation for the services we provided during covid.
“I think the city was probably impressed by the number of people who made an effort to come on a Saturday afternoon. It was hard in a lot of ways and made me sad that I won’t be working with the staff and patrons anymore. The library offers the traditional things that people still want, including physical materials, programs, and a place where they can bring their kids. I hope my successor understands the importance of blending the past with the future,” said Ms. Gray.
Ms. Gray’s successor has not yet been named.