California Special District

Page 36

[What’s so special]

The Little Library District that Could! By Luren Dickinson, Beaumont Library District Principal Librarian

Public libraries across the country, both large and small, have struggled with reduced revenue and keeping up with technology. But one small library has shown that where there is a will there is a way. Beaumont Library District is “the little library district that could!”

growth took place from 2000 to 2015 with the city exceeding 40,000 and the library district population exceeding 70,000, making it the fastest growing area in California during that time period.

With a population of less than a thousand, the city of Beaumont, California was a sleepy little place when it was founded in 1912 and it remained that way for most of the twentieth century. Beaumont Library District, one of only a dozen special district libraries in the state, was actually founded a year earlier than the city and had the fortune of receiving a grant from Andrew Carnegie that financed a library building in 1914.

Unfortunately, with the restrictions imposed by Proposition 13 in 1978 and the additional loss of funding through the Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund (ERAF) that permanently took tax dollars from counties, municipalities, and special districts to replace lost school funding during the economic downturn in 1992 —Beaumont Library District, like many other

Beaumont had over 5,000 people by 1970 and Beaumont Library District, with a 60-square mile service area including the city and unincorporated areas like Cherry Valley, also grew by doubling the space of the original Carnegie building. Although Beaumont had over 11,000 residents by 2000, its biggest


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