From Our President
What an honor it is to serve as President of the Long Beach Public Library Foundation for 2018. Since 1996, this organization, through charitable contributions, has provided funding for programs to improve literacy and education throughout our city’s libraries. During that time, the Foundation, led by its Board of Directors and made possible by its generous donors, has raised more than $21 million for books, materials, technology, and vital programs for children, teens, families, seniors, veterans, and the disabled.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) serves as a bellwether for positive trends in libraries and museums throughout America. This past year our Long Beach Public Library system was awarded the National Medal as one of the top 5 (out of nearly 10,000 public libraries) in the country that “demonstrate extraordinary and innovative approaches to public service, exceeding the expected levels of community outreach.”
For example, there has been an extraordinary explosion of attendance and engagement at our city’s newest facility, the state-of-the-art Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library. With a goal to have 10,000 books and materials withdrawn in its first three months, in fact there were more than 42,000 withdrawn and visitor attendance exceeds more than 1,000 several days a week. Community involvement has been paramount to these statistics.
About a year ago, the Library began offering the Career Online High School program for local adults to earn their high school diploma using library resources. The Library Foundation supports this program with scholarships to make this opportunity accessible to those who need it. So far, 12 students have graduated, several with plans to further their educations at City College.
Unfortunately, we learned this past year that there is a serious “digital divide” in our city, where 25% of Long Beach households lack an adequate portal to the internet. This means that children cannot do their homework online, that parents and other individuals cannot pay their bills online, that the unemployed are unable to apply for jobs online. As we collaborate with other city programs and services to find solutions to this serious issue, our Long Beach Public Library system has been a leader in providing computer access for free, but those resources are limited. Our libraries need more computers, more software and more staff assistance.
The Long Beach Public Library system has proven to be a leader in “library of the future” advancements. With over a million visitors each year, our libraries transform our community and serve as a critical part of our city’s economic development, its educational foundation, and its safety net.
On behalf of our outstanding librarians, our terrific Foundation staff and our dedicated Board of Directors, I thank you for your interest in our Long Beach Public Libraries, and I invite you to join us in supporting their future. Each and every contribution truly makes a difference in the framework of our spectacular city.
Susan Redfield, Board President