Library System to Use Funds for Public Benefit

Written by Theresa-Marie Wilson

Theresa-Maria Wilson has been a journalist covering the North Coast and South County area for over 20 years. She is also the founder of Cat Noir CC and is currently working on a novel.

March 1, 2024

McAdam; Corvus Wealth Advisors CEO Rob Garcia; Foundation Board Members Elizabeth Manak, Charlotte Alexander, Kristy Lundstrom, Marlie Schmidt, and Kristin Bridgeford; Library Director Chris Barnickel. Photo submitted

Further collection development and enhanced programs are coming to San Luis Obispo County Public Libraries.

Thanks to two local benefactors, the SLO County Library Foundation announced a donation of $119,525 to benefit children and adults who visit any of the 14 locations or make use of the county’s Library by Mail program.

Most of the donation, $65,525, will support the collections budget of the library this year, helping to purchase books and other materials patrons can borrow. The donation is made possible by a bequest received by the Foundation from Sarah Day, a resident of Morro Bay who died in 1999.

“Sarah has supplemented our collections,” said Erica Thatcher, engagement and marketing coordinator for the libraries. “Over the years, she was a real big supporter of the LGBTQ community. It’s been really helpful for us to make sure we have representation in our collections.” 

The remainder, $54,000, will support the 2024 Summer Reading Program via the Barbara Baltimore Memorial Fund, created when Baltimore, a volunteer at the SLO library since 2005, passed away in 2011.  

The cost of the summer reading program, slated to run June 8 through August 10, includes books for participants, usually a book bag, and a materials program. There are separate programs for kids and adults. Participation numbers for both have risen.

“Kids are generally the primary audience,” said Thatcher. “Thousands of kids participate every summer, and they tripled or quadrupled last summer. Our adult participants have also increased, so we’re expecting more participants. We want to make sure that libraries across the county, not just libraries that have active friends’ groups, get a chance to have like quality programs.

“We plan to bring summer reading fun to Summer Meals for Kids pickup sites, to homebound adults and incarcerated teens, as well as to learners enrolled in our adult literacy program.” 

Reaching more patrons has been a creative adventure that happens outside the stacks and cozy chairs often associated with a library. The County uses the Branch Out Vans to bring mini libraries to sites where the nearest location is a distance away or is difficult to reach for some patrons. More community event pop-ups are expected in 2024 as well. Partnerships with juvenile hall and county jail are expected to result in more programs and material at the facilities. 

“We also have a library by mail program, where we ship books to homebound adults and older adults who can’t make it to the library,” Thatcher said. “We want to invite them to participate. And again, we want to reach kids who might not have a chance to come to the library over the summer.  They’re out there, and we want to find where they are.”

The Foundation is a tax-exempt non-profit organization that has served the San Luis Obispo County Library since 1996.  

“The Foundation Board of Directors sincerely appreciates the support we receive from county residents who love our libraries,” said Foundation President Juliane McAdam in a news release. “We gratefully accept bequests and other donations large and small that benefit library programs supporting our community. We work with Library Director Chris Barnickel and his staff to determine the greatest needs.”

SLO County Public Libraries operates 14 branches providing service to residents of 6 of the 7 incorporated cities and the unincorporated areas of San Luis Obispo County, a service area that extends over 3,000 square miles.

For more information about the Foundation, visit For more information about the programs and services of the library, visit

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