Meet Jeff Norman, Big Sur’s de facto historian, naturalist, and educator!!

Perhaps no one has done more to create awareness around Big Sur’s physical majesty and the need to preserve it than Jeff Norman.

Norman was Big Sur’s de facto historian, naturalist, and educator. He wrote a quintessential Big Sur book, “Images of America: Big Sur,” which is one of the Library’s biggest sellers.

Jeff passed away in 2007, but his legacy lives on.


The Jeff Norman Bookshelf will honor the late naturalist and historian by compiling publications documenting the natural and cultural history of the Big Sur coast.

To many, Norman was the embodiment of Big Sur, having dedicating his life to protecting the wilderness and documenting its history in books like “Big Sur Observed” and “Images of America: Big Sur.” The Monterey County Weekly called his legacy “prodigious,” but as of now, it remains undocumented.

Establishing a “one-stop” location for such educational materials was a goal of Jeff’s prior to his death in 2007 at the age of 56, and the Library hopes to honor his legacy by bring his vision to fruition.

The bookshelf, which will be located inside the Library’s main building, will be constantly upgraded as new books and research papers are published.

In fact, the Library applied for a Monterey Arts Council grant to help pay for this endeavor, and guess what? We got it!

We’ll start work on the bookshelf in the new year.

In the meantime, check out this piece on Norman in the Monterey County Weekly. Some money quotes:

“As a historian, Norman knew that for some individuals their obituary column was the only place where their life story was told. Norman’s story will know no such fate – he has made such a lasting impression on the Big Sur community that the area’s residents will be recounting Norman’s story for generations to come.


They will speak of his unorthodox attitude and his passion to truly understand and relate the importance of Big Sur to others.”

“The feature Norman likely will be most remembered for was his sheer excitement at learning and imparting knowledge about Big Sur to others. Friend Kathy MacKenzie remembers Norman telling her that some of the best times of his life occurred while driving along the Coast Ridge Road with Bill Post, a member of one of Big Sur’s most prominent homesteading families.

There, with views of kelp scabbing the massive Pacific and the white bloom of yuccas exploding like lit matches along the land, Post would regale Norman with tales about Big Sur’s hardscrabble early settlers. “Jeff would just soak up the stories,” MacKenzie says.”

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