Friday, August 8, 2008

AN UPDATE!

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.

THE LATEST:

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.

WHAT NOW?

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!

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Not only is it important that the city of Long Beach have a central library to house reference books, local history and genealogy collections and older books which branches have no space to shelve, but Main is necessary for providing work space for behind-the-scene projects in which staff continually engage. The book shelves at branches are overflowing despite frequent tossing of older volumes, and the work space is even more crowded. Has the mayor ever visited the offices of a branch library? If he had, he could never suggest that more staff, needed to keep branches open more hours, could work efficiently in such tiny areas.

Closing Main would not only deprive 500,000 users of access to books, computers, services to the disabled, meeting rooms and children's programs, it would mean the loss of the expertise and research activities of a dedicated staff.

Please, save our library.

Judith Cameron

Anonymous said...

I am a native Long Beacher, now living in Los Angeles. I lived downtown and the Main Library was my library.

I am completely opposed to "shuttering" Main Library, with ANY "gap in services." Under no circumstances should the City Council take such a foolish step without a well thought out plan for how services will continue in the interim. It is not possible to have a vital downtown without a functioning library. This is insane way to attempt to balance a budget.

I would be excited about the potential for a new Main Library! However, concrete plans for a new building must be in place and (land purchased, architect plans, etc,) BEFORE the current Main Library is closed.

Now, more than ever, information must be kept free and accessible to all.

Closing the Long Beach Main Library would hurt scholars, readers and neighbors, all of whom rely on that branch of the Library.

Anonymous said...

Neighborhood was a favorite word during recent election campaigns, from the Mayor to the Council members. The same favorite word is also included in the Long Beach Strategic Plan, 2010: "Plan...covering the areas of neighborhoods, education and youth...."
What is the definition of a neighborhood when you work at City Hall?

I can walk 4 short blocks and be in the Main Library. So can many more people, as buildings and towers have mushroomed around Downtown. The Main Library is more than a bookstore or an internet cafe. It is a cultural and educational center. Last year the Main Library alone has received as many visitors as the entire population of the City of Long Beach.

The Main Library must not close. A plan of renovation must be submitted to allow most of the Main Library services to remain open in our neighborhood.

Marie-Jo Machefert
First District resident

Anonymous said...

Dear LB City Council,

Please do not close the main LB public library. It provides valuable
services to many people, and it would be a disgrace on our city to
close it.

Sincerely yours,

Kathryn Chew

Anonymous said...

I’ll be honest, you have me nearly at a loss for words. And that doesn’t happen often.



I’d like to mount a thoughtful, reasoned argument against closing the main library. But to refute your ideas that way requires that you have reasons which can be addressed and refuted. I don’t think you satisfy that criterion. Your idea of balancing the budget by closing the library seems, more than anything else, like an aeronautical engineer’s decision to make an airplane lighter by cutting off the wings!



Although I presently live in Mr. deLong’s district, my family and I spent about 28 years living in Wrigley, and making regular trips to the Main Library. One of the things I’m happiest about passing on to my children is an addiction to reading, and the Main Library was a wonderful enabler of that. Not only did I spend more hours than I can count relaxing in one of the Main Library’s chairs, but my children took full advantage of it throughout their educational careers. It would be a terrible thing to deprive the families now living there of that same opportunity.



I could rattle on like this for a while, but the main point is very simple: Do not close the Main Library. It’s a bad idea. It will harm the city of Long Beach , more than whatever money it might save in the short run.



Really, just stand in front of a mirror and try to explain it to yourself. See if you can finish the explanation with a straight face.

Anonymous said...

I am a frequent and enthusiastic user of the Main Library, also an author
of 17 books (some of which are in the system), retired and completely
dependent on the Main for my reading and research needs. I visit twice a
month, typically, and usually have about 15 to 20 items out on loan.
I've been doing this for about 12 years now. I love the Main Library and
can't even believe that city officials could be so ignorant as to think
that closing our best library is a solution to the budget woes.

It's been said that the measure of a city's greatness is its library. In
this, Long Beach is fortunate. Our Main library is a vast treasure of
knowledge. It's also a dynamic social service! Visit any morning at
five minutes before opening time, and observe the crowd waiting to get
in. People can use the computers, research jobs, communicate, learn,
grow, hey -- even use the rest rooms. Let's not be coy, the Main Library
is a vital civic service even beyond its superb collection of accumulated
human wisdom.

Please let me know how I can help avert the impending disaster of a
closure.

Anonymous said...

As sent to City Hall-

Hello Mr. Foster-

The next time you’re traveling to another city, make it a point to visit the Main Library. It’s the “crown jewel” of that community wherever you go in the United States . In fact, most city leaders will make a point of showing it off.



Here in California , it’s the community center and the heart of the neighborhood. Every neighborhood. It’s the place to go, the place to be, and the alternative to the streets. Here in our community, it’s the answer to the police department’s prayers because it keeps kids and teens OFF the streets with lots of fun activities that lead them to better life choices.



We just completed our Summer Reading Club that included visitors from out-of-state. They were thrilled with our programs and our simple prize gifts, as their rural libraries back home had closed. Don’t let this happen to the great City of Long Beach .



I do community outreach to high schools, junior highs, juvenile hall, and house arrest programs, and I train other librarians to do these tasks as well. It is our goal to get these kids BEFORE they’re in the criminal justice system. Closing their libraries is not the answer. Closing Long Beach Main is definitely not the answer for your neighborhood either.



Tasneem Watts

(born and raised in LB: attended Sutter Elementary, Lindbergh Jr. High, Jordan High School , LBCC, CSULB, and San Jose State University )

Senior Librarian, Teen Services

Anaheim Public Library: Central

Anonymous said...

I wish to strongly protest the plan to close the main Long Beach Library. Ray Bradbury's letter in the Long Beach Press Telegram expresses my opinion. Libraries are essential public services and have *not* become irrelevant. It is short-sighted to close down a facility that aids education and the betterment of citizens in so many ways. Whatever you save in money is more than lost in improvement to individuals and society. Don't wage a war on literacy and the preservation of culture and education in Long Beach.

Gabriela Toro said...

As sent to City Hall-

My name is Gabriela Toro. I am a 21 year old mother to two boys. I have been an avid visitor to the Main Library since 1993. I grew up in this city and thanks to the Main Library and the programs that they offer it has kept me out of trouble. This library offers programs that other libraries do not. In this library there are programs especially made for kids, adults, teens, special needs. People of all walks of life can come to this library and find the help that they need. Now before i get to another point that I want to make let me tell you a little more. If it wasn't for this library and all the books it has I don't know where I would be. Thanks to this library and the friends I made here I had a place that I could go to instead of being around negative people. Instead of being out doing drugs or drinking because I had an accent or because I didn't "fit" in. I would check out 10-15 books almost every week. I grew up on 15th and Magnolia and it was not as bad as other streets but it was also not the best. As i grew up more i read more and more. eventually it kept my grades up and it taught me to improve my language something i would not learn in the streets. It has kept me from doing the wrong thing because through these books i have seen the world. i have learned to cook, to sew to be a better mom to my kids.

I now bring my kids to storytime and they are signed up for the summer reading program. These programs have helped my son to be more social and not so rough. It is teaching him to share and that there are other people not just him and his brother. He among other boys are getting ready for preschool and kindergarten. Once they reach kinder or preschool they wont be so shy or so scared to be around other kids their age because they would already have that experience. They wont be so scared to leave their moms because they now that she will be there when its time to pick them up. Programs that are offered in this library are essential to keeping city kids out of the streets. Many cant go to other libraries. This is their outlet. It worries me as well as other parents. whats going to happen? Where can we take our kids? Yes, there are local libraries but they don't offer the same resources or come close to what is offered at the main library.

Its rare to have people of different nationalities in the same place and not have them fighting. But here its different. If you take it down permanently then were would that leave the next generation? What would happen to the 1200 students that visit the library on school trips for the first time? What would happen to the people with disabilities that are no longer going to have the same access to resources? Whats going to happen to all the kids that live downtown that consider this their neighborhood library?

if this is really about a budge tcut why not get rid of other buildings that are not good for the city, for example strip clubs, bars, the pike? is it because they are for entertainment? But what good is that for the kids and everyone else that needs the library?? What are people learning out of clubs and bowling? What is so educational?

i will do what it takes whether its protesting or writing to every one, to get our point across. Please reconsider. there has to be a better alternative


Gabriela Toro

Andrea said...

Dear Mayor:

As a 10-year patron of the Long Beach Public Library system, I am very disappointed to hear that the Main Branch of the library may be closing. I have been using the LBPL services since I moved to Long Beach from Los Angeles in 1998. I use the library for work, school and personal business. During the week, I visit my local branches more frequently, but when I want to work, learn or perform research specifically on Sundays, the Downtown LB Library is the best resource for me for 20 miles!

Everytime I visit the Main Branch, I wait with the other 50 or so patrons waiting to use the facility and its services. The librarians are knowledgeable, the computers are plentiful and the library itself is pleasant. It's large, quiet and well-maintained. The only time I didn't find what I need is when I wanted to review a scholarly journal for my Library course at Long Beach City College. When I couldn't locate the item, I was informed that the library does not carry scholarly journals. So I had to wait until Monday to use the library at school. Until then, though, I was able to get some information from a reference librarian, use the Internet, and check out a few books. So my opinion is that instead of making plans to close the library, the City should be coming up with ideas for how to expand it!

In closing, please know that the City would be doing the entire community a huge disservice by closing Long Beach Main Library. As a long-time patron, I beg you to reconsider.

Sincerely,

Andrea B. Semper

Dorothy said...

Dear Mayor and Councilpersons,


The plan to close the Main Library and replace it with a limited satellite office will harm Downtown more than you seem to have realized.



I grew up on San Francisco Street , near 21st, so the Main Library was always my go-to place when I needed a library. As a little kid, I attended read-out-loud events in the children’s section, and learned to love the children’s librarian, Madeline, who still remembered me well into high school. She taught me to research for school projects, and helped me make sure I found every single Dr. Seuss book that was available.



Walking into the Main Library was a magical experience. The large concrete complex of the library and city hall seemed important, and I knew that I would have to be on my best behavior in this special place. In order to get out my energy before going into the library, I’d roll down the hill outside, giggling at my dizziness.



In junior high, I spent a good deal of time at the Dana Branch library. A friend and I would walk there from Hughes Middle School to wait for our parents to pick us up after work. It was a decent place to get homework done, and it had an okay selection of books, but it didn’t have the grandeur that the Main Library has, which projects the idea that books and knowledge are important. The branches in general simply don’t have the space and atmosphere that the Main Library has.



Now that I am an adult, I live down town and frequent the Main Library. I still roll down the hill outside, and I still feel the importance as I enter what has come to be a temple of knowledge.



I understand the frustration over the need for repairs, but the idea to house a satellite office and shift most functions to the branches is terrible. First of all, libraries are more than computer access and job-finding programs. Libraries need space to house books! I would have no reason to go to a satellite office, as I have computer access at home and an excellent career as a high school English teacher. What I need a library for is books! If you take away easy access to thousands of actual books, newspapers, and city records, you perpetuate the devaluation of knowledge. Any replacement for the existing Main Library building needs to be as or more impressive than the current building because the Main Library needs to continue to function as a symbol of opportunity of education. If you shut the doors to the Main Branch, even for a year, you tell the citizens of Long Beach that knowledge is unimportant.



A city like Long Beach can’t afford to have its temple of knowledge replaced by a storefront. Either figure out how to repair the Main Library, or build something comparable.



Thank you for your time,
Dorothy E.V. Morris