First Bond Act co-located facility opens in Newport Beach

The Donna and John Crean Mariners Library, a branch of the Newport Beach Public Library and the first Library Bond Act co-located public library, celebrated its grand opening April 20. The Library Bond Act board awarded the library, one of 18 projects in the bond act’s first application cycle, approximately $3.2 million toward its project total of approximately $5.2 million.

Adjacent to Mariners Elementary School and a city park, the new Mariners Branch Library, a facility that the Newport Beach Public Library with the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, will serve both neighborhood families and children at the school.   As a co-located facility, the Mariners Branch Library will maximize public dollars by sharing resources.  The library will serve as the students’ school library as well as a public library for the local residents. At 15,305 square feet, it is more than double the size of the former Mariners branch built in 1963.

Grand Opening

At the April event outside the new facility, over 1,000 Mariners Elementary School students, local residents, city, school, and library officials gathered.  Welcoming students and the community to the new library were Newport Beach Mayor Don Webb; former California secretary of education, Marian Bergeson; board of library trustees chairman, Dr. Harry Hamilton; Newport-Mesa Unified School Board President David Brooks, and California State Library Office of Library Construction (OLC) consultant Barbara Silken.  Silken told the crowd that the Mariners Branch Library is one out of 45 projects to receive funds from the state bond act grant program and the third library to be completed.

Life inside the new library

Mariners, according to its designers, is a “light-airy space, with high ceilings and lots of natural lighting, as well as comfortable ‘kid-friendly’ furniture, and computer workstations designated for children, teen, and adult use.”  The alluring new library, filled with state-of-the-art materials and enthusiastic staff, is already helping change how people, kids particularly, see their local library.

Since the April opening, Mariners has seen a tremendous increase in the number of customers.  Branch manager and librarian Mary Ellen Bowman, who started at Mariners’ former facility in 2002, says Mariners’ “traffic has increased 100%: we had 1300 customers the first day…[in the tiny old library] on a good Saturday we would see 600 customers at the most.”  Bowman attributes these winning numbers to the fact that people like “hanging out” in their library; adults, teens, and children want to linger in spaces filled with computer stations, texts, and even customized furniture.

Mariners Branch Library is already sparking a lifelong library “habit” in its youngest customers. Because Mariners is a co-located facility, Bowman says children are more closely identifying the library with their research, homework, and leisure reading.  Since Mariners is so generally appealing more smiling kids are coming in over after school just because they want to.

Office of Library Construction staff provides expertise

The California State Library’s OLC staff supports bond act libraries after initial funding.  OLC staff, says Deputy Bond Act Manager Linda Springer, are specialists whose collective experience in operations and construction - reviewing project design drawings, specifications, and cost estimates - helps libraries like Mariners “get the most bang for their buck.” Whereas public library leaders and other team members may build a library “once in a career,” OLC staff have shepherded projects “six, eight, or ten times.” 

For more information on the new Donna and John Crean Mariners Branch Library, visit the Newport Beach Public Library’s website or call (949) 717-3800.  Or visit the Mariners Project Page on the OLC website.

For more information about the California State Library’s Office of Library Construction or the Library Bond Act of 2000 contact Richard B. Hall at (916) 445-9604 or



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