North Coast Current

On the road again: Philosophical Library seeks new home

The Philosophical Library's most recent Escondido home was combined with the Creative Center for Spiritual Living. Library managers seek a new home after losing this location. (Escondido Grapevine photo)

The Philosophical Library's most recent Escondido home was combined with the Creative Center for Spiritual Living. Library managers seek a new home after losing this location. (Escondido Grapevine photo)

Dan Weisman, The Escondido Grapevine

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Don’t look now but Escondido’s venerable Philosophical Library, dating back to 1963, is nowhere to be found. It’s status, according to its website? Moving.

A reflection of the times, a sign of the future that this nonprofit, all-volunteer 12,000-plus book and media lending library and book sanctuary established in 1963 needs sanctuary? That all those books now sit, unaccessible and non-circulating, at a nondescript local storage unit?

Perhaps. Then again, bad economic fortune may strike anywhere at any time. A funny thing happened on the way to 1330 East Valley Parkway (behind the IHOP restaurant), the nonprofit library’s once and now distant home. It got served.

“Our beloved Philosophical Library was forced temporarily to close its doors due to construction projects in the center that previously housed it,” Adrian Magana said. He’s the president, albeit one without a physical nation. “We are actively looking for a new location, but have been hampered by same financial hardships that have affected all of us in these trying economic times.”

More than a tad frustrating, Philosophical Library members say. After all, for more than a half century, the place was a local institution, honored and well trafficked, providing space for classes and meetings as well as gift and book sales, jewelry, gem stones and crystals. What’s Escondido going to do?

“As a local community-based nonprofit, we rely on volunteers and donations to keep our doors open,” Magana said, “and have a donate section on the library page for this purpose. We wish to reopen as soon as possible. Our desire is to fulfill our mission: ‘Providing the community with unique resources for those seeking Meaning, Wisdom and Self Discovery.”

For now, “We are planning to have fundraising events to help us reach our monetary goals,” Magana said. “For updates please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.”

The library has had to move on more than one occasion, so probably members know the drill. It began on Rose Avenue, then moved to Felicita Boulevard and Centre City Parkway. Going all Willie Nelson, the ’brary hit the road for Grand Avenue and Broadway.

After that, the library relocated to 507 S. Escondido Blvd. The group moved headquarters in 2007 to 2091 East Valley Parkway, Suite D. The reason for that move? The building it was leasing changed ownership.

At the time, astrologer and library board member Ed Kohout told the North County Times: “This part of the county is greatly underserved by what we offer here. We’re not a church. There are no rituals here. People can choose whatever they want in terms of religion. We’re sort of an alternative spiritual resource center. To have a place for people to hang out and read, meditate and talk to others on the same philosophical bent is a good thing.”

Alas, that move lasted all of four years. Yet again, the verisimilitudes of fortune, mainly poor, necessitated another downsizing move, this time to 1330 East Valley Parkway. The library settled in to space shared with the Creative Center for Spiritual Living.

“The ‘energy’ is very welcoming and peaceful,” the group’s newsletter said. “All stress is guaranteed to be left outside the door.”

The library was established under the name The Philosophical and Religious-Free Library by its founder, Stuart Otto. At that time, the library was to serve as a place for the collection and preservation of texts and criticisms of all religions known to man.

Alas, nothing lasts forever, or even the equivalent of one U.S. presidential term, for what is believed to be one of the oldest continuing operating metaphysical bookstores in the nation.

At its high point, the library had 400 dues paying members. That’s down to 100 or less. On the other hand, the library has gone from 8,000 books to 12,000 volumes today.

Ron Porter waved eloquent about the library a few years ago.

“The guiding principles of the Library were very unique and, although guaranteed by our country’s Constitution, promoting ideas embraced by other than the main stream vocal majority and providing the materials for research of such subjects was just beginning to emerge in the early ’60s,” Porter wrote in a library profile on the website Hidden San Diego.

“AT&T had just released the touch-tone phone, the Beatles released their Number One hit ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand,’ and Dr. Martin Luther King attempted to release a country from turmoil with his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech,” Porter wrote. “In that year the Philosophical Library’s mission was set as follows: Not supporting or identifying with any one specific teaching, doctrine, or creed in exclusion of others — and to be an open place for the pursuit of wisdom.

“Let me repeat the last portion of that last sentence,” Porter continued, “it is important: An open place for the pursuit of wisdom. Let those younger than I not take this for granted. It wasn’t always so, even in a country such as the United States. That basic human right, if not exercised, has been, and could be again, severely limited.”

No avenue will be left unturned, therefore, as members look for a way — they have the will — to find a new home somehow, somewhere in the greater Escondido area. Got any clues? Contact Magana at (760) 822-6294 or info@philosophicallibrary.org. The group maintains a website at http://philosophicallibrary.org/.

This story is published through a sharing agreement with The Escondido Grapevine, an independent news site covering inland North County. Go online to http://escondidograpevine.com/.

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