Monday, September 8, 2008

City Council Will Finalize Budget Tommorrow!


On the one hand, there is GOOD NEWS! Library supporters have been heard! According to City Council comments this week, it appears Main Library will not close entirely! The current proposal calls for Tuesday- Saturday operations.

City Council seems to agree that the effective assessment of the structural and leakage issues facing the Main Library building will require more time and careful analysis.

However, the Main Library still faces the threat of an immediate $1.8 million (= 37%!) cut to its budget. This means that the smallest department is being asked to shoulder more than 10% of the City’s entire $16.9 million dollar defecit.


THIS TUESDAY, Sept. 9th, at 3:30PM City Council will vote on a proposal to RESTORE $500,000 to Main Library’s 09 budget, making its total cut only $1.3 million.

If approved, this reduced cut would bring the Library Department’s overall budget cuts BACK IN LINE with the 10% cut requested of all other City departments.

A $500,000 restoration will save critical services for youth, teens, adults and the disabled!!!

PLEASE call and/or email all City Council members before Tuesday afternoon. THANK THEM for keeping Main Library open, and URGE them to support adding $500,000 back to Main Library.

Friday, August 29, 2008


On Tuesday evening in the Main Library Auditorium, the City held a community meeting and presented:

- Their case for why they feel Main Library needs to be temporarily relocated.
- Their proposal for possible temporary sites.

The information was very inconclusive and had lots of missing elements. The audience seemed to pick up on this, asking several dozen pointed questions. Instead of addressing all the questions that arose, Assistant City Manager, Suzanne Frick, said that the answers would be posted on the City’s website. (We’ll add the link once it is up)

From citizens asking probing questions regarding the state of the building and the City’s conclusions about the infrastructure, to a passionate, emotional plea from a ten-year-old who walked with an entire group from Stevenson Elementary, the audience hammered the City Staff on what was quoted to be a “illogical, disgrace of a proposal” which threatened a “100 year old vital urban resource” with “no respectful planning or analysis to back up the proposal or conclusions.”

Here’s a quick outline of the issues and our current understanding of both sides of the arguments. We hope to see as many of you on Tuesday at 3:30PM at City Hall to help us voice these concerns and questions to City Council.

Assumption #1: Main Library needs to be closed, now, in the short-term!

City: AGREE.

  1. Based on seismic studies, the Library is deficient in six areas and may be in danger of collapse during a significant earthquake.
  2. The Roof leaks and collections are in danger with every winter rainfall.
  3. The building is unsightly and blighted and ugly.


  1. The seismic studies are merely assessments, not recommendations. They have no concrete numbers tied to them (risk factors, Richter scale numbers, that can be verified by a third party structural engineer). Nothing in the reports say the Library must be closed immediately.
  2. The seismic issues come from the weight of the park on the roof. There are solid options for removing this weight, which would solve ALL the seismic issues.
  3. There are options for replacing the membrane, which would prevent new leakage problems. Many of the leaks have already been patched and are no longer active leaks.
  4. The problems and deferred maintenance have gone on for thirty years, there is no new information that warrants such an urgent move to close the building with no options or plan.

Assumption #2: The cost of a temporary repair to Main Library is too expensive and an unwise investment, therefore the City is recommending that a temporary location must be found.


  1. A total roof repair would be over $9 million dollars.
  2. The City doesn’t think we should sink one more dime into a “dying” building that the City doesn’t want to “save” in the future.
  3. If a permanent, new library is built on this site, we would need to move temporarily anyway.

Library Supporters: DISAGREE

  1. There is a viable temporary “patch” option costing $3-$4M which would remove all the weight from the roof solving all seismic issues and would encapsulate the roof preventing new leaks. It would be good for ten years until a new library site can be found.

    (The former Director of Public Works recommended this option to the City Council in a Council letter dated July 3, 2007. It was withdrawn from the Council agenda, thereby denying the City Council the opportunity to vote on the issue.)

    (The current Director of Public Works, Mike Conway, agreed in a meeting with library supporters earlier this week that this is still an option, however it is not a roof replacement, (just a repair), the cost is only and estimate and has not been bid out yet and it would remove the park temporarily).

  2. The City has not done a cost analysis for what a new offsite temporary library would cost (lease, ADA requirements, wiring, tenant improvements, moving everything and then having staffing at both the current building (Administrative, Systems/Technology Staff and possibly staff to pull from the Main collection) and at the new building. Therefore, the roof repair might end up being the most cost-efficient and still preserves all the services at Main Library.
Assumption #3: A 20k-30k square foot proposed temporary “branch” library would be short-term, continue to provide services and fulfill the City’s library needs, until it is replaced with a new, permanent Main Library.

  1. A downtown branch library the size of Mark Twain (16,000 sq ft) will work temporarily.
  2. Most priority services will fit in that size building.
  3. Temporary will only mean 2-4 years.
  4. The temporary library WILL be replaced with a new Main Library regardless of whether the proposed infrastructure parcel tax passes or fails.

Library Supporters: DISAGREE

  1. It will be impossible to cram all the important services, collections and computers currently provided in a 132,000 sq ft library into a 20,000 square foot space and still meet the needs of the community.
  2. The City should look first at the services that are most used and needed and the square footage they require and then go find a location.
  3. The only “plan” for a new Main Library is based on the passage of the proposed Infrastructure parcel tax in the November 2008 election. The City has proposed to use $26 million for a new Main Library. This might buy a library less than 1/3 the site of the current Main Library.
  4. Temporary, as we’ve seen with Mark Twain, could mean close to fifty years and there’s no guarantee of moving quickly, especially if the infrastructure parcel tax fails.
Assumption #4: If Main Library is closed or reduced in size or services and branch hours expanded, the library needs of the community will still be met efficiently and cost effectively.


  1. All the patrons currently served by Main Library could be served by eleven existing branch libraries and a small downtown branch.
  2. Patrons could find transportation to other branches and take advantage of the expanded hours.

Library Supporters: DISAGREE

  1. The branch libraries are cramped, overused and offer very limited collections. They could not handle an additional 460,000 visitors a year.
  2. Many children and families can’t afford transportation to another branch library.
  3. A downtown branch library could not replace Main library and still meet the city-wide library system needs, including full access to the Main Library collection which people rely on.

Whew! As you can see, it’s no easy issue!! Please continue to talk to your council members about the concerns and provide your input for what you would like to see for the future of the Long Beach Public Library.

The Friends of the Long Beach Public Library, the Long Beach Public Library Foundation, and many, many supporters have collected 5,468 signatures!!! Please turn in ALL petitions by Tuesday the 2nd at 1PM to the Long Beach Public Library Foundation Office, or bring them (totaled) and taped together, to the City Hall meeting at 3:30PM.

Thank you all for your support! The REAL story is getting out!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Evening Community Meeting This Week!

101 Pacific Ave, Long Beach 90822

The City has set up an important community meeting on Tuesday evening right after the 1st District regular community meeting which goes from 5:30PM-6:30PM. Both meetings will be held the Main Library auditorium. (Main Library is open until 8pm on Tuesday and Thursday evenings)

The Director of Public Works, Mike Conway will be presenting important information regarding the City's claim that the Main Library needs to be closed due to health and safety issues. The information should be very interesting and hopefully address the issues that supporters keep raising. It's important that the community comes to the meeting to hear the city's position and asks questions. Eleanore Schmidt, the Director of Library Services will also be discussing the library services the Main currently provides and what services would be needed in a temporary library. Additionally, there may be a presentation about possible temporary library sites.

It's important to get many community members to these meetings as possible and for everyone to provide input so that the City hears how important the Library is to our community!

We will update the blog on the news we hear Tuesday night.

We are up to 3,000 signatures!! Petitions are due September 1st and can be mailed, faxed or dropped off to the Long Beach Public Library Foundation who have agreed to collect them. Email for more details.

Also, there was a very touching article in the Press Telegram newspaper today called "Fighting for the Library" which talks about a Long Beach Librarian, Virginia Sanchez, who is stationed in Afghanistan and the LETTER she wrote to City Council.

Monday, August 18, 2008

"I Want to Help, But What Should I Write?"

We've received comments that many of you want to help by writing an email to City Council, (THANK YOU!) but you aren't sure of what to write.

The most important thing is that they hear from you. Your email/lettercould be short and sweet: "Don't close Main Library, I use it!"

Or you could talk about the reasons you feel the City of Long Beach needs a Main Library.

Or you could just copy over this form letter and REPLACE the parts in red to personalize it and send it to the entire City Council using all the emails listed below (and on the right side of this webpage), with the subject "Don't Close Main Library!",,,,,,,,,,,

City Hall needs to hear your voice!

Dear City Council and Mayor,

I am *CHOOSE ONE: incredibly concerned, upset, angry, outraged* about the proposal to close Main Library. As a resident of Long Beach and a library patron, I am in support of a strong public library system, including a Main Library that provides free access to information for our entire community.


I do not feel that the Council and City Management have been forthcoming and upfront with the exact costs, details and options to repair the current Main Library. I am alarmed to hear how long the City has deferred maintenance on the Library and that there was money set aside for repair projects last year, but the project was never completed and the money is no longer available.

I do not support the investment of opening the branches additional days if it means that our City will be without a Main Library. Our branch libraries cannot handle the overflow. If cuts must be made to our libraries, I believe other options should be explored and a plan should be in place before closing Main Library.

I am concerned by the lack of planning in this proposal. Before the City Council votes to close Main, I want to see a well-defined, considerate plan for a new Main Library that addresses the needs of the community and provides all the important services the current library is providing, including:

- Access to the largest collection of books and Media not available at our branch libraries.

- A children’s section with a story time theater, special children computers, children’s books and children’s programming.

- A Family Learning Center for homework help.

- An Information Center for People with Disabilities

- A computer center for adults

- A place to display artwork and special collections

- Meeting space

- Access to periodicals and government documents

- A Friends of the Library bookstore

- A Reference Desk staffed with knowledgeable librarians to help the public with questions

- Programs such as the Homebound Reader’s for Seniors

- Quiet open spaces for individual study and reading

- A replacement or replica of the Miller Room

- Administration to help oversee all of the branch libraries, the system wide programs, and inter-library functions


Please do not cut these valuable programs and interrupt services to our community. The Main library is a vital tool to educating the community and preventing crime by keeping people in a safe, quiet environment where they can access information for free. It’s important for the City of Long Beach to protect this cultural institution!



AUGUST 26th 6:45PM-8:00PM - Main Library Auditorium

Important community meeting entitled "Rebuild and/or Relocate Main Library" The department of Public Works and the Department of Library Services will be presenting and there will be an opportunity for questions from the public.

SEPTEMBER 2nd, 3:30-5:30PM - City Hall Council Chambers

City Council budget workshop on the Library which allows comments from the public. We need as many people as possible to attend this meeting! We will have signs and there will be a chance for anyone to address the Council on the library topic. Comments limited between 1-3 minutes depending on what the Council decides and how many people want to speak.

Many individual Council Disctricts are also meeting throughout the month on the budget, we encourage to attedn the one in your district.

8-20, 11:30AM- 9th District, Coolidge Park

8-21, 11:30AM- 3rd District, Yacht Club

8-21, 7:00PM- 7th and 8th District, Petroleum Club

8-26, 5:30PM- 1st District, Main Library Auditorium

8-27, 6:00PM- 6th District, McBride Park

Thank you for continued attention and support!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


From our last post, it may have seemed like the heat on the library budget issue has subsided a bit. We’ve continued to try to sort out the story as it evolves.

Make no mistake- there is still a major threat that we will lose vital library services and a large, fully functioning Main Library in downtown Long Beach!

The City Manager, Pat West, has said publicly

"What we’re proposing is not to shutter Main Library until we have a satellite
facility up and ready to go. Once we do that, then we would take the Main
Library down.”

However, nothing has been put in writing, no revisions have been proposed for the budget (which currently calls for complete closure to save a net of $1.8 million) and no plan for a temporary library has been put in place.

The public must be VIGILANT about attending critical budget meetings and continuing to flood City Council and the Mayor with questions and concerns about the proposed budget cut.

We don’t know about you, but to us, the issue has been made extremely complex and City Hall has been incredibly vague and elusive. More questions are arising than answers. We’ve tried to organize the questions below. The public and press must ask these questions and demand answers, before the City Council votes to irrevocably close Main Library, leaving us with slashed services and a very uncertain future for our Long Beach Public Library system.



  • Why can’t the Main Library stay open until a new, permanent building is ready?
  • Why hasn’t the City made public any documentation regarding the immediate health and safety dangers of the current building?
  • If it’s so dangerous, why are employees being allowed to stay?
  • Why did the City deliberately defer maintenance for so many years?
  • Why won’t the City address the report from Public Works last year that recommended the building could be fixed for $3 million dollars? (Read the report yourself by clicking HERE)
  • What has changed since last summer?
  • Why did the money that was set aside to fix the building “disappear”?



  • What is the definition of a satellite facility?
  • Will it include ALL the core library services in one place and continue to meet the needs of the community?
  • How big will it be?
  • Will it be located close to the current building?
  • How long will it take to open?
  • How will it be funded?
  • How long is “temporary”?
  • What will ensure we aren’t stuck with a temporary facility indefinitely?
  • What will happen to all of the books and staff that don’t fit in the satellite facility?



The money for a new library is supposed to come from the proposed Infrastructure Parcel Tax.

  • How much of the total will be allocated to a new Main Library?
  • Is it the $20 million dollar amount that has been reported by the press?
  • Is this amount enough for a comparable Main Library?
  • Is there any guarantee that the Parcel Tax will fund a new Main Library?
  • What priority will the Main Library have with regards to all the other projects on the infrastructure list?
  • When will the new library be built?

The Mayor has been quoted saying that a new Main Library will be much smaller.

  • How MUCH smaller?
  • Will the new Main Library still be big enough to be a MAIN LIBRARY or will we be left with just a downtown branch library?
  • Where will it be located?

What if the bond doesn’t pass?
What will ensure that we get a new library?

We just don’t understand the urgency of moving forward to close Main Library with no comprehensive plan in place to make sure that the City of Long Beach will have a fully functional Main Library.

Our greatest concern is that this budget recommendation will be approved by the City Council with nothing more than “promises” that the City will take care of our library needs. If that were to happen, our community might be left without a Main Library or with something that doesn’t meet any of our needs or expectations.

PLEASE participate and demand transparency in this budget process.

Don’t let the City close our Main Library and move forward without knowing EXACTLY what we’re getting in its place. Once this current Main Library closes, we may never get a comparable library back!


Email your concerns (again!) to all City Council members and the Mayor. Write letters to all of the newspapers.
(We know that in several cases, the papers are not publishing your letters, but keep writing them to ALL of the papers. And send them to us, we’ll publish them!)

PLEASE, show up to the budget meetings. There is one on August 19th, and we have been told that SEPT 2ND, 3:30PM will be completely dedicated to the library issue and it may carry over into the evening City Council session. We really need as many speakers as possible to attend both parts (afternoon and evening) to share how important Main Library is to you and to raise these questions with City Hall.

AND PLEASE keep collecting signatures! Our current deadline will be to collect them all in time to present them at the Sept 2nd Council Meeting.


Friday, August 8, 2008


Forgive us for the pause in communication, we’ve been trying to regroup and wrap our heads around the messages coming from City Hall. The story seems to be changing everyday.


In Tuesday’s public budget hearing meeting, the City Manager, Pat West, said clearly that the City did not intend to “shutter” Main Library without some sort of temporary, “satellite” facility up and running first. The Mayor insisted that there is no development deal for the Civic Center Complex.

Pat West said that he had created a task force of department heads and would include representatives from the Friends of the Long Beach Public Library and the Long Beach Public Library Foundation (who have been contacted and plan to attend) to explore options of what the temporary location would look like and which services it might offer.

Councilmembers B. Lowenthal, S. Lowenthal, R. Gabelich, T. Reyes Uranga, and G. Schipske all spoke out as being opposed to a complete closure of Main Library. S. Lowenthal stated that this was the first she had heard of a “satellite” temporary library, but that she liked the idea, hoped we would think creatively about making it a model that would work, and could even possibly transition into a new library. S. Lowenthal alluded to the fact that there is a big difference between some kind of “tent” and a functioning temporary library that would be in place for several years while a new permanent solution for the building can be found.

The District Weekly has several articles updating the public on the meeting, and clarifying the story as it has evolved.


While this was a positive step in the right direction, the threat to Main Library’s services is still very real, and communication and support needs to continue throughout the budget process. There is a very big difference between some kind of temporary “trailer or kiosk” and a functioning temporary library. The public must be vigilant in expressing their needs and expectations to the Council.

(1) Please keep writing your Councilmembers and the Mayor. Tell them about the services you use at Main, why you use them, and which ones you need and expect in a temporary facility.

(2) Continue to collect signatures of supporters. We are up to 2,000 signatures!! We are going to present these at a future budget hearing meeting.

(3) PLEASE make sure you attend next Tuesday’s budget meeting at 3:30PM at City Hall. We have buttons and signs of support, and the Council NEEDS to hear your voices and concerns as they continue to try and balance the budget and make decisions about the future of the library.

Thank you for your support!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Where We Stand.

There has been some confusion about exactly what our group of supporters is opposing, what we're suggesting and where we stand.

To quote today's Press Telegram Editorial, "Let's get facts straight."

Yes let's. Let's start talking from the same page. Let's be perfectly clear on what this is all about. We've heard that the plan to close Main is "fiscally responsible," and stops sinking "operational overhead costs" into a facility that's "outdated," "dilapidated" and "hardly used."

Let's address each claim we've heard one by one, and try to simplify the issue.


The Main Library must be closed due to the state of the building, which includes seismic, piping and leak issues.

OUR RESPONSE: We've not seen ANY public document stating that the Main Library is "condemned" for any health and safety reason. There is nothing that says this building HAS to be shut NOW for health and safety reasons. There are seismic reports that City Hall is in worse shape, and yet there is no plan to immediately shut that building. Under the Freedom of Information Act, we have placed a formal public information request to obtain copies of any documents having to do with the state of the building. We'll let you know what we hear.


The Main Library would take $10 Million dollars to fix.

OUR RESPONSE: This convenient number so easily quoted by the Mayor, the City Manager and the Press is actually the highest price for fixing Main Library. Last summer, the Department of Public Works put out a report that recommended three alternatives for fixing Main. The one they recommended, which would have addressed seismic issues and piping, was THREE MILLION DOLLARS. The least expensive option, which would have addressed piping issues was $800,000. Interestingly enough the item was "pulled" from the City Council agenda, never voted on, and in the meeting supporters had with Pat West, he admitted that the money that was set aside for that proposal "went away" to deal with the massive overspending issues.


Hardly anyone uses Main Library anyway.

FACT. In the fiscal year for 2007, 459,880 visits occurred at Main Library. Where does that number come from? From Main Library gate exit counts. (A machine that counts the number of people exiting the library.) And they aren't counted twice, only when they leave. (And no, staff takes another door.) Hardly a small figure. We've heard arguments that those are school children being "bussed in" and we can "bus them to ANY library." Local third graders DO take field trips to see City Hall and the Main Library in order to learn about city government and city resources. They come to Main because it's the best library, the largest, has the best collection and has enough space and a story theater for the kids. But we're talking about roughly 1,200 kids a year for that specific program. So that still leaves a HUGE number of visitations to Main. Real people, all different ethnicities, income levels and zip codes from all over the Long Beach, who use the resources at Main to help them with school, life, work and even the pure joy of browsing the stacks and reading a good book.


The Main Library isn't a "Core Service" and its services could easily be absorbed by extending hours at other branches and moving books.

OUR RESPONSE: The Main Library is 132,000 square feet and houses 464,000 items. In comparison, the average size of the branches (other than the new Mark Twain) is 7,500 square feet and each has a collection 1/10 the size. All of the eleven branches have a total COMBINED collection of 541,000 items. There would be no physical space for more books, and the branches are already struggling with overcrowding. To our knowledge, the City conducted no formal analysis or planning to see if this solution was even viable.

To conclude,

1. We are strongly opposed to "shuttering" Main Library, with ANY "gap in services." We feel that the City Council should not take such a drastic step to balance the budget without a well thought out plan for how services will continue in the interim.

2. We are not trying to SAVE the Main Library building. We are VERY supportive and excited about the potential for a new Main Library! However, concrete plans for a new building should be in place and (land purchased, architect plans, etc,) BEFORE we CLOSE the current Main Library.

3. We don't believe that the City's recommendation took into account the real impacts and all the data available from the Department of Library Services. The recommendation does not consider the true nature of the operations and the internal efficiencies for the way the library system works.

4. Closing down a Main Library in a city of half a million people (the 5th largest in the State) is an outrage! It shows a complete disregard for the vital role a library plays in meeting the needs of our community. It's appalling that the library fell this low on the City's list of priorities. No one would dream of "shuttering" City Hall, the fire station downtown, or the police headquarters for an "indefinite time" with a "gap in service for several years" while a "plan is created" to deal with the building. It just doesn't make sense.

We hope to see as many of you as possible at the budget hearing meetings in the City Council Chambers at 3:30PM.