People in Your Neighborhood: Laura Dennison is a true friend of the Ocean Beach Library
The key player at the OB Library is working toward its expansion.
While books help open the world of imagination and information and help us develop skills such as language, focus and concentration, some books have the power to change minds. However, the journey through which one falls in love with books differs from one person to another.
For Laura Dennison, it started when she was a child. Her parents were schoolteachers. At a young age, she often spent hours in their classrooms engrossed in the various materials around her.
“I would always head to the school library and help the librarians with cataloging and exploring all the books for something interesting to read,” Dennison said.
One of the school librarians told Dennison that a public library is the most democratic American institution because anyone, regardless of age, race, color, income, immigration status or disability, can visit.
“That thought has always been with me and made me feel very grateful to volunteer at the library,” Dennison said.
Dennison and her husband, Dan, have lived in 11 states but decided to move to San Diego County — Dan grew up in Chula Vista — and they settled in Ocean Beach in 2012.
“Ever the eager volunteer, I headed down to the Ocean Beach Library and asked to be a volunteer,” Dennison said.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic caused library closures, Dennison was seen every day at the library, organizing book donations and selling them to make money for library events and programs.
“Since COVID-19, we haveother ways to sell our books through other organizations. I am selling books online with a goal of making $500 per month,” Dennison said.
One of the recent additions to the branch is the Ocean Beach Seed Library. People can go to the library and take home seeds that are adapted to the San Diego climate and organically produced for their gardens.
“It is truly a unique project that I helped secure some of the funding for. You can visit the OB Seed Library Facebook page to order the seeds and they will be mailed to you.”
Dennison also is membership chair for Friends of the Ocean Beach Library. She sends out a monthly newsletter to the members.
The Ocean Beach Library is one of the oldest libraries in San Diego, dating to 1916. The building is small and historic. In the 1990s, the city began acquiring land to expand the branch. An award-winning design was selected, adjacent land was targeted and the city received a grant to purchase the land in 2005. Then the Great Recession hit and all library expansion plans evaporated. Later, the city even considered closing the branch and selling it and the adjacent land.
“We rebelled,” Dennison said. “Ocean Beach residents carried picket signs and pestered every politician who would let them in the door. We prevailed, but all plans of expansion were gone, and the newly purchased adjacent land and building were rented out.”
Dennison, as one of the co-chairs of the expansion effort, and members of Friends of the Ocean Beach Library began to lobby again for expansion. They recently received design and feasibility funding and began looking for donors. Then the pandemic arrived and the project stopped.
“I am philosophical about this and hoping that the third time we gear up again for expansion will be the charm,” Dennison said.
— Editor’s note: “People in Your Neighborhood” shines a spotlight on notable locals we all wish we knew more about. If you know someone you’d like us to profile, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.