Elyse Kuhn

The Friends of the Ramona Library was established in 1985 by Lark Burkhart, President; Elyse Kuhn, Vice President; and K. D. Quinn. "People gave us beautiful books," says Elyse Kuhn, who would serve as President or Vice President numerous times. With information on pricing from Antiquarian Booksellers of San Diego, Mrs. Kuhn made the most of the book sales to provide furnishings and programs for the library. They also staged fashion shows at the Mt. Woodson/Amy Strong Castle and Gardens which was provided free of charge by owner William A. Davidson. "Fantasy in Silk" was one of the most memorable shows. But the goals they had required more funding, so Lark Burkhart applied for a Block Grant. It was denied.

In 1987 Mrs. Kuhn submitted another request and the Friends received the first of three federally funded Community Development Block Grants through the County of San Diego. It was time to expand the library, by this time almost 15 years old. First the patio was enclosed to create a reference room, later a Community Room was added and finally the Elyse Kuhn Literacy Center was completed.

But the growing community eventually needed more room. Mrs. Kuhn began applying for state grants. She submitted 57 proposals and received 1 or 2 positive replies. Undaunted, and with "a lot of support" from then-new Library Director José Aponte, they approached Supervisor Dianne Jacob who gave them a huge challenge, says Mrs. Kuhn: "Raise $1 million towards the construction of a new library."

They enlisted the help of local businesswoman Joan Gansert, and the community of Ramona responded, raising $5 here and $10 there, along with larger contributions from wealthy individuals including the Ernest A. Auerbach family. After 10 years of "meetings galore," and with help from Supervisor Jacob, the Friends of the Library contributed $966,000 for the new library.

"People are so grateful for this library," Mrs. Kuhn says. "Being a Friend of the Library is reaping the rewards of knowing that you are playing a very important role in the educational, cultural and entertainment needs of the community."

The state-of-the-art library, which opened its doors on February 15, 2011, is 21,000 square feet and includes amenities that provide the community with greater access to library services. In the first year of operation the branch circulated 360,000 items, provided 1,240 programs with an attendance of 27,100 and welcomed 220,000 visitors through the doors!