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With Or Without Billie Jean King's Name, LB Taxpayers Will Get New Main Library Bldg. That's 30% Smaller And Without Former Public Auditorium is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
(July 7, 2019, 8:25 a.m.) -- Whether or not Billie Jean King's name is added to LB's new Main Library building [ coverage here], the new Main Library building will be over 30% smaller than LB's previous Main Library building. In addition, the former Main Library's ample auditorium (used for numerous public meetings and City Council overflow crowds) is now gone.

In previous presentations, city management's library staff have euphemized the shrunken facility as "smarter" or more efficient or reflecting digital changes, but one wouldn't expect subordinate city management to criticize what senior city management proposed and City Councils approved (with the sole exception of then-Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske.) Those ultimately responsible for giving Long Beach taxpayers a smaller Main Library with a sizable taxpayer pricetag were LB City Councilmembers who over time included then-downtown Councilmembers Robert Garcia, Lena Gonzalez, Suja Lowenthal and current Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce [now respectively LB's Mayor, 33rd dist. state Senator, Hermosa Beach City Manager and 2nd Council dist. incumbent.]

On seeing the initial library design a few years ago, some among the LB library's independent non-profit booster groups voiced mild concern but ultimately chose not to fight City Hall. Efforts by to reach LB Library management over the past weeks reached impenetrable voice mail.

A Sept. 16, 2014 Council "study session" on the new Civic Center included a PPT slide listing the then-Main Library's size at 135,000 square feet. However a little over a year later, city management's agendizing memo accompanying Council voted action on December 15, 2015 [another LB taxpayer-impacting action timed for low-attention holiday period] listed the Main Library's size as 138,000 sq. feet and the new Library's size as 92,500 sq. feet.

[Scroll down for further.]

LB's former Main Library included a 5,429 sq. foot auditorium [source: facility rental webpage] that included a stage with permanent seating. It accommodated an audience of 286 people and was previously used for multiple public meetings and accommodated overflow crowds at Council meetings on major matters. [Some who defended the Council's Dec. 2018 voted approval to add a $1 million large-screen "media wall" to the new City Hall lobby [presumably near the new "Bob Foster Civic Chambers"] argued that it could be used to display Council meetings for overflow crowds (without permanent seating.) coverage here.]



Doing the Library building size math:

  • 138,000 - 92,500 = 45,000 sq. ft less (if the auditorium included), a 32.9% smaller building

  • 132,571 - 92,500 = 40,071 sq. feet (excluding the auditorium square footage), 30.2% smaller library space.

Supporters of the Mayor/Council approved new Civic Center and its smaller Main library commonly cite other things. Things other than library books.

Supporters point to the new library's expanded children's area, art studio, teen lounge, study area, computers, media production room and a "family learning center" promising programs for veterans, immigrants and adult literacy learners in a facility with an environmentally friendly energy design.

LB taxpayers can ultimately decide the public library benefits received versus public library facilities gone.


The new Main Library was initially set to open in mid-summer 2019 but the opening has been pushed back to September 21, 2019.

City officials have invited the public [release text] on July 29 "to celebrate the grand opening of the new Civic Center, which includes a new City Hall and Port Headquarters. The event, which is open to the public, will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the Long Beach Civic Center Plaza. During the grand opening, the plaza will be activated with resources from departments throughout the City, and will include entertainment, food trucks, and a flag-raising ceremony. The community will be able to tour the lobby levels of the new City Hall and Port buildings as well as the Bob Foster Civic Chambers."

[2:30 p.m., July 7, 2019: has added details of the proposal for the smaller Main Library included in the proposal made to the City by the private Civic Center developer/operator ultimately chosen by the City Council, click here.]





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