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 Many of the leaks have already been patched and are no longer active leaks.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!

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