Tehee: Library for London Project gets musical help

The Fresno BeeJune 18, 2014 

The South Valley town of London sits on 400 acres in Tulare County and has a population of just over 2,000.

It's a one-exit stop off Highway 99.

Blink and you'll miss it.

This is a rural community, affected by poverty and crime, and those who grew up in the area (as I did) likely think of it as the place you went to get illegal substances.

"Unless you have family. Other than that, you have no reason to be there," says Rob Isquierdo Jr., who grew up in London and is the guy behind the Library for London Project, which is looking to open a permanent, fully functioning library in town.

It doesn't exist yet, but in the three months that Isquierdo has been working on the project, it already has books, a portable school room and a spot of land directly across from the London Community Center.

The room will be moved when there is enough money to pour the foundation.

Which is where the Music for the London Library Project comes in.

The two-day fundraiser kicks off Saturday at Peeve's Public House on the Fulton Mall in Fresno and features local musicians Blake Jones and the Trike Shop, Merlinda Espinosa and the Visalia band Slow Season. That's followed by a 2 p.m. show Sunday at London Park, 37835 Kate Road in London, where Jones and Espinosa will be joined by twee-rockers Sci-Fi Caper. Suggested donation is $5 or two books.

Jones teaches music at Kings River Union Elementary School and a majority of his students come from London. He's been wanting to do a music event in the town for a while.

"When I heard about the Library for London Project, I figured now was the time," he says.

Jones says he knows the long-term sustainability of a thing like this takes work and money — and also the ability to maintain some enthusiasm. The event, like the library itself, will be community-raising. Several of Jones' eighth-grade students will sit in on a few songs with his band.

Isquierdo says no one should have to be told how important a fully functioning library can be to a community, but he stresses that it can be transformative, especially because libraries provide services to a critical population, especially young kids.

"That's the population that cannot leave town after work," he says. "That's a population that cannot seek out its own literary resources."

That's compounded in a place like London, where children are transported out of town for most, if not all, of their learning (and entertainment) needs.

Isquierdo says he traveled to Dinuba for school and to Kingsburg to play sports. If his family wanted to use the library, it meant a trip to Reedley.

This is the first of three fundraisers planned for the summer, Isquierdo says. Bullfrogs Bar and Grill in Kingsburg will host a Library for London Night on July 25, and a Library for London 5K run is scheduled for July 27.

If you go

Music for the London Library Project, two days of fundraising concerts featuring Blake Jones and the Trike Shop, Merlinda Espinosa, Slow Season and Sci-Fi Caper. 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Peeve's Public House, 1243 Fulton Mall, Fresno; and 2 p.m. Sunday at London Park, 37835 Kate Road, London. Suggested donation is $5 or two books. Details: libraryforlondon.com


The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6479, jtehee@fresnobee.com or @joshuatehee on Instagram and Twitter. Read his blog at www.fresnobeehive.com

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