When a thousand people each give $1,000 that equals $1 million. This major capital support campaign of the Costa Mesa Library Foundation — to raise a substantial sum of money for a new central library in Costa Mesa from a large number of residents in our community — gives everyone an opportunity to make a statement that they know and appreciate the importance of libraries in their education, employability, and relaxation.

Why do we need a central library?

A number of studies completed since 1998 show that there are unmet library needs in our city. Additional space is needed for expanded collections, study rooms, meeting rooms, more computers, teen areas, and the very popular children's programs. There should be sufficient space for local artists to exhibit or perform their works.

Currently library service in Costa Mesa is provided by three small branch libraries of the Orange County Public Library (OCPL) system: the Costa Mesa Donald Dungan Library, at 1855 Park Ave., the Mesa Verde Library, at 2969 Mesa Verde Drive East, and the Technology Library, at 3033 S. Bristol St.

Among cities of our size in California, Costa Mesa has the least amount of library space. This affects all aspects of the quality of life in our community, including employment, housing, public safety and education.

Correcting this imbalance is essential for all Costa Mesans. Our three present libraries have great, hard-working staffs, but there is a limit to what they can accomplish in such small spaces.

This library is urgently needed but can only be built with the active support, both vocally and financially, of all Costa Mesans.

You can pledge your $1,000 support in the form of a one-time donation or spread out your commitment in monthly, quarterly, or yearly increments. Pledge online at http://costamesalibraryfoundation.org/fundraising-campaigns, or send a check or money order to: Costa Mesa Library Foundation, $1000 from 1000 People Campaign, P.O. Box 2864, Costa Mesa, CA 92628.

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What our youth is reading

Because I volunteer in a library, I have been asked what our young people are reading these days. I needed help with that and asked Rosalind Wilkes, branch manager at the Mesa Verde Library.

This is what she said:

"We see best-sellers come and go, reflecting the current enthusiasms of adult readers. With children's books, the build-up often takes longer and is based more on word of mouth than on media acclaim; titles that really take off can become long-lasting favorites. We know that titles from well-loved authors such as Roald Dahl, Judy Blume, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Eric Carle and Dr. Seuss will retain their popularity and will never be seen 'sitting' on the library shelves, but there are newcomers that seem to be standing the test of time.

"For intermediate readers (grades 3-6), try Rick Riordan's stories of Percy Jackson, (begin with "The Lightning Thief"), Erin Hunter's warrior cats saga, (begin with "Into the Wild"), the "Fabumouse" adventures of Geronimo Stilton or learn "How to Train Your Dragon" with Cressida Cowell. More advanced readers will identify with Will, as he struggles to find his place in the fantasy world of John Flanagan's "Ranger's Apprentice" series.

"The teen appetite for all things dark and dangerous continues. New readers are still finding Stephanie Meyer's "Twilight" series; fans of these will also go for the "The Vampire Diaries" of L.J. Smith and Nancy Holder's series "Wicked." In a lighter vein, the "Luxe" quartet (Anna Godbersen), the "Gossip Girl" series (Cecily Von Ziegesar), and "L.A. Candy" titles (Lauren Conrad) all rank high in the popularity stakes.

"Children's Services staff at the Costa Mesa branches of O.C. Public Libraries will happily find these or other books for you or your child to read this summer. At the library, there is truly something for everyone. Studies have shown that children who read through the summer vacation are better prepared for school in the fall.

"The Summer Reading program, 'One World, Many Stories,' runs through the month of July; participants are credited for the time they spend reading, rather than the number of books they read. Visit http://www.ocpl.org for more details of special programs at each branch."

I hope this helps! When you don't know, ask a librarian!

MARY ELLEN GODDARD produced this column on behalf of the Friends of Costa Mesa Libraries, the Costa Mesa Library Foundation and the three Costa Mesa libraries.