Save the Slab City Library

Wanted: Chief librarian for Slab City Lizard Tree Library. Must be literate, love books, the desert climate, live in own RV and enjoy colorful characters of all types. Pay is non-existent but the fulfillment of running this institution is something money can’t buy. Job starts today.

What began as a final trip to the Slab City Library yesterday has turned into a devastating discovery. This one-of-a-kind institution is on the verge of collapse.

Sunday afternoon I arrived with some DVDs to donate, only to find piles of books thrown around, and an angry look on the face of Ron, the chief librarian. All of the doors to the place had also been removed, the sign had disappeared from the parking lot, and the book donation shelves were gone. He even took our Internut access away.

I was stunned, and asked Ron, “Uh, what happened to the shelves?”

His eyes were filled with rage as he said “I’m sick of picking up after people and their dog shit! I’ve had it! If they want to trash this place they can have it!”

I asked “But….what’s going to happen here?”

Ron said, “It’s a self-serve library from now on. People can take care of it themselves. I’m done!” and he stormed out.

Three years ago, Ron arrived just after the founder of the library died. He was enthusiastic about keeping it going, and moved in next door. He took the wheels off his motorhome, set up an encampment, and went about the business of becoming chief librarian. He’s done an incredible job. Every time I went there, new books had been shelved, more fun knicknacks appeared and the floor was always clean.

But apparently the slobs around here made him snap. Or maybe it the 120 degree summertime temperatures. But last week he threw up his hands and surrendered. Now, this treasure is at risk of becoming just another trash heap in the last free place in America.

I’m so devastated, it kept me awake last night. I love libraries, and this is a rare find in America. It’s killing me that we’re supposed to leave for Anza Borrego tomorrow.

Today I made the “Save the Libaray!” sign and posted it inside, hoping that more people might care enough to stop taking the library for granted. Maybe we can change Ron’s mind about quitting.

I guess I’ll have to wait until next year to find out what happens next.

And if nobody wants the job, I just might apply when we return.

What started out as a final trip to the Slab City Library yesterday has turned into a devastating discovery. This one-of-a-kind institution is on the verge of collapse.

Sunday afternoon I arrived with some DVDs to donate, only to find piles of books thrown around, and an angry look on the face of Ron, the chief librarian. All of the doors to the place had also been removed, the sign had disappeared from the parking lot, and the book donation shelves were gone.

I was stunned, and asked Ron, “Uh, what happened to the shelves?”

He looked at me with rage in his eyes and said “I’m sick of picking up after people and their dog shit! I’ve had it! If they want to trash this place they can have it!”

With my mouth hanging open I said “But….what’s going to happen here?”

Ron said, “It’s a self-serve library from now on. People can take care of it themselves. I’m done!” and he stormed out.

Three years ago, Ron arrived just after the founder of the library died. Ron was enthusiastic about keeping the library alive, and decided he would move in next door. He took the wheels off his motorhome, set up a permanent encampment, and went about the business of becoming head librarian. Up until now he’s done an incredible job keeping this treasure going. Every time I went there, new books had been shelved, more fun knicknacks appeared and the floor was always clean.

But apparently the slobs around here made him snap. Or maybe it the 120 degree summertime temperatures. But last week he threw up his hands and surrendered. Now, this treasure is at risk of becoming just another trash heap in the last free place in America.

I’m devastated. I love libraries, and I swear there’s nowhere like this place in America. It was founded by one woman who loved books, and when she died, the community of snowbirds and regulars kept her legacy alive by spiffing up this hand-built this oasis in the desert.

It’s killing me that we’re supposed to leave to check out Anza Borrego tomorrow. I don’t want to see this place disappear. This morning I made this sign, hoping that more people might give a crap and stop taking the library for granted. I guess I’ll have to wait until next year to find out what they chose to do. Maybe I’ll come back in January and take over as librarian.

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27 Responses to “Save the Slab City Library”

  1. Hey – so what is happening with the library? It has intrigued me…I wonder if I could talk my hubby into going down there to run it…lol

  2. So it’s now almost a year later – what is happening with the library? We are going to Slab City for the first time at the end of March for the prom. I love libraries and was so inspired to read about this one, please tell me it is still thriving!

    • Hey Debby. Thanks for the reminder, I meant to post an update when we were there.

      The library is still around and it looks like someone is sort of taking care of it. It’s far from what it used to be though, which was kind of sad. Broken bookshelves and organization is lacking. Weather has taken its toll. But people are still leaving books to donate.

      The former caretaker is still living adjacent to the library but I don’t think he’s managing it. The fountain and furniture is still gone from when he flipped and ripped it all out.

      I really hope someone takes it over permanently. It’s the only library for 100 miles!

    • What exact date is the slab city prom?

      • I think I remember seeing a flier saying the 2011 Slab City Pram would be March 26, but don’t quote me on that! I’d suggest checking The Range website, but it appears to be no more.

  3. I’m a first year library student. Did you find a new librarian?

    • That is doubtful, but if you’re not familiar with the Slabs you may want to pay a visit to discover what this “library” is all about – not exactly a career decision with potential for advancement! ;-)

  4. I am really sad to read this post. I will be out there next January and I hope to see the library still in good shape.

  5. Mike and Cindi March 24, 2010 at 12:50 pm Reply

    a book for the library:

    http://www.jackrabbithomestead.com/

  6. FYI, Ron has been involved with the library for much longer than 3 years. I think he arrived at the Slabs around 2000 or 1999 & shortly began working with Rosalie (Peggy S., died early 2003) to help bring her vision to fruition. The place is as much a memorial for Rosalie as it is a library: Some of her ashes, a peace memorial, an aloe grove, her rustic bed, purple bottles, etc (ask him)… There’s even a memorial for a buddy of mine, Kenny, a whiskey bottle fence on the southerly side. He gets pissy, but Ron is too sentimental to not return. If you know Handyman, he may show you the 10min film, “The Legend of Rosalie,” if you’re not too pushy.

  7. I was just over there today, and all looks fine. No books out of place, no trash on the ground. And there was even a whole new collection of gardening books someone dropped off and shelved. Whew! I’m hopeful that things will stay like this.

  8. OMG. That library was on my list of “coolest places on earth”… I sure hope that it manages to morph and survive. I’ve been looking forward to visiting again.

  9. What a disappointment – you are coming to Anza Borrego the day we leave… I missed you at the gathering with Al and Kelly – and now again…
    This library story is just too sad. Not so easy to find someone so dedicated to the job. What Did you din out what happened that day?

    • Dang! We wanted to make it Al’s gathering too but couldn’t. Well, I know our paths will meet up eventually. Don’t yet know what happened to the Library but we’ll find out when we go back in a few weeks for the Slab City Prom! Stay tuned & thanks for reading.

  10. I’m so sorry to hear this – I really liked that library. Maybe Ron will change his mind, especially after the great sign you made.

  11. That is awful. I hate when businesses I love go under which has happended a lot in this economy. Keep your chin up you might just save the place or find a new place just as neat.

  12. This is terrible. We were at the library yesterday morning and it looked fine. I hope it can be saved as I know many people enjoy it.

    • Hey Brian. Yeah, I know. I was there in the morning and it looked fine. It wasn’t until I returned in the afternoon when I noticed the doors had been removed and the Internut desk was gone. Then I got the scoop from Ron and Cool Bus Peter. I’m so bummed. Let’s save the library!

  13. What a neat place! Good for you making that sign. I hope it helps. And I hope Ron decides to come back.

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