Long Beach Post: Online Services are no match for Long Beach’s Libraries
On July 26, 2018, The Grunion shared the following op-ed by Mayor Robert Garcia and our Executive Director, Kate Azar.
You can read the article below or click through to the Long Beach Post.
Despite these changing times when information is readily available to many people, libraries remain a critical resource in Long Beach today and they will continue to be in the future. They cannot be replaced by some online resources, as was claimed in a recent proposal in Forbes. (Editor’s note: After significant backlash, the article has since been taken down.)
Our libraries provide much needed access to books and community spaces but this just scratches the surface of their offerings. The services of the Long Beach Public Library go beyond anything that can be found online and most of the services are free. Our libraries offer daily educational programs for patrons of all ages, job development workshops, computer and internet access, and many other programs and services to address the needs of families, students, seniors, those with disabilities, veterans, job seekers, and anyone else who wishes to learn. Here are just a few ways that our libraries provide value:
Books, Books, and More
Many of us enjoy a home collection of our favorite books, but only in our libraries will you find a seemingly endless catalog that will open your mind to new worlds both real and fictional. There are over 800,000 books, audio books, DVDs, and recordings available. Can’t find what you need? Ask a librarian. They are always expanding their catalog and looking for suggestions from patrons.
If you prefer your books digital, your Long Beach Public Library card gives you free access to an extensive library of e-books and audio books that you can download through the Cloud Library, Libby, OverDrive and Axis 360 apps straight to your computer, tablet or smartphone. Some have even traded in their $15 per month audio book subscription for the free Libby app.
Free access to non-fiction works, research texts and academic journals can save students hundreds and even thousands of dollars on books for school. With the country’s student loan debt recently reaching $1.5 trillion, every dollar counts when saving money on education. As a bonus, librarians and library staff can help patrons find the right resources. Many people turn to our archives to research their own genealogy, saving those hefty fees for popular genealogy websites and services.
DVD rentals live on at the library with recent blockbuster hits like “Black Panther”and popular TV shows like “Game of Thrones.” You can also stream critically acclaimed indie films, documentaries and classic movies at home through the Kanopy app with your library card.
You can even go to the movies at the library. The Main Library is currently hosting a Marilyn Monroe film series on the big screen in their auditorium and many of the local branches host movie screenings in their community rooms. With movie tickets and popcorn prices always increasing, it’s refreshing to get out of the heat and enjoy a good flick for free.
All 12 library branches offer general use computers and free Wi-Fi. For many in our community, the library is the only place they can access a computer or the internet. In fact, one in four households in Long Beach do not have an adequate portal to the internet. Some of these residents only have access through smartphones which do not allow them to complete their homework assignments, draft resumes, complete job applications, explore job postings, and anything else that requires a computer with internet access. Our libraries even have qualified Learning Guides on standby to help with homework or job search related projects.
Want to learn how to use the latest Adobe design programs or take a class in accounting, Excel, or Spanish? Why pay hefty tuition fees when you can learn it for free online with your library card? Download the Mango Languages app and enter your library card number for free language lessons, take practice SAT, GRE or civil service tests on LearningExpress, receive resume and job search support through Brainfuse JobNow, or explore the many Gale Courses to learn how to use the latest computer software, earn professional certificates, and more.
When individuals develop marketable job skills and advance their careers, it benefits the economic well-being of their families and our entire community.
Patrons of all ages continue to learn and socialize at the library. Families can attend weekly bilingual storytime and early childhood reading programs; children and teens can combat the “summer slide” and have fun competing for prizes in the Summer Reading program; older readers can join book clubs; adults can earn their accredited high school diploma through the Library’s Career Online High School; creative minds of all ages can receive instruction in 3D printing, graphic design, video game design, robotics and coding. The list of educational programs goes on and on and it’s all free with a library card.
Funding the Long Beach Public Library is a valuable investment in our city’s education system and our economy. And these services will continue to expand with the new Main Library, downtown’s new center of learning, which is scheduled to open in the summer of 2019. Not only can the many free services our library offers save you money, but they are also crucial to our city’s low-income residents who rely on the library for more than just books and socialization.
Long Beach libraries provide hundreds of free services that allow the city’s residents to enrich their own lives, making our city a safer and more economically successful place to live. Check out the library’s full calendar of programs and events at LBPL.org.
If you love the library and want to invest in our community, visit the Long Beach Public Library Foundation at lbplfoundation.org.
Take Action for Libraries!
A Nurturing Place to Succeed – Nariah’s Story
Nariah has been visiting the Family Learning Center since her sophomore year of high school. High school can be a stressful time with difficult classes and all the preparation it takes to graduate and move on to the next step. When Nariah first discovered the Library, she would usually go to Dana Neighborhood Library or Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library and do her homework in the public space. Even though she was able to get her work done, she discovered that the Family Learning Centers at both branches provide an environment that was more helpful to her.
Because she doesn’t have a computer with internet access at home, Nariah appreciates that the Family Learning Centers have computers she can use. The centers are staffed by Learning Guides offering one-on-one guidance for homework and research.
“The Library is a big reason reason I push myself to be something. I enjoy meeting new people and the staff. I feel comfortable in this environment.”
Today, Nariah is a Library volunteer and enjoys supporting the librarians and staff who have supported her.
The Family Learning Center program is funded by the Library Foundation and offers support to students, job seekers, seniors, veterans, and anyone else who visits the Library looking for guidance with a project or research. You can support this program with a tax-deductible donation to celebrate National Library Month. CLICK HERE
Connecting and Making a Difference – Steve’s Story
Steve Leary first visited the Long Beach Public Library in 2008. At that time, he was apprehensive about using one of the library’s computers. Due to the high cost of internet, he didn’t have a computer at home. With encouragement from his younger sister, who lives in Ireland and wanted to be able to communicate with him online, Steve gave it a try. The Library offers a General Computer Use class that gave Steve the opportunity to receive one-on-one support to set up his email and use basic programs.
Learning how to communicate online has opened a whole new world for Steve. As a civic-minded Long Beach resident, Steve uses email and social media to connect with Mayor Garcia and City Councilmembers about the issues that matter most to him. He supports nonprofit organizations and community groups that he first connects with online. In April 2018, The Grunion published an Op-Ed by Steve in which he expressed his support for Urban Community Outreach, a nonprofit offering services to Long Beach’s homeless population. He is currently in the city’s Neighborhood Leadership Program to develop more skills, knowledge, and resources to make a difference in Long Beach.
Steve was able to discover these opportunities with the Library computers. It is estimated that 25% of Long Beach households do not have an adequate internet portal, and Steve is one of the residents without a connection. However, the computers available at the Library have had a major impact on his life. He has visited almost every branch, but usually goes to the Alamitos Neighborhood Library.
Every day the Library opens new doors for people like Steve. You can support Library programs with a tax-deductible donation to celebrate National Library Month. CLICK HERE
Visit Your Local Public Library (Opinion)
The following letter to the editor by our Board President, Susan Redfield, appeared in the March 22, 2018 issue of the Press-Telegram. To view the original letter on the Press-Telegram’s website, Click HERE.
Re “California librarian not a prim post at all” (Opinion, March 17):
Thank you for Larry Wilson’s piece about Greg Lucas, California’s state librarian. Like Greg, our libraries are so much more than the dated stereotypes people sometimes recall.
In Long Beach, our libraries have joined the 21st Century, offering more than just books. Over 1 million patrons visited our city libraries last year to access digital resources, 3D printers, free coding classes, homework help, job skills training and more.
In 2016, the Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library branch opened in north Long Beach, an area that very much needed the community resources it offered. More than 5,000 people visited opening day, including many who made small contributions to the Long Beach Public Library Foundation’s $1 million fundraising campaign for the library. Since then, the library’s visits have increased by 70 percent and program participation has increased by 90 percent.
The Long Beach Public Library will further modernize with a new main library in downtown Long Beach. Praised as one of the most innovative public-private partnerships in the state, the new library will be a beacon of education and economic development in Long Beach, transforming the lives of patrons and our community.
Even if you are lucky enough to rely on your smartphones as the main source of information, it’s time to visit your local public library. You’ll be impressed by what you find.
— Susan Redfield, Long Beach
The letter writer is president of the Long Beach Public Library Foundation Board of the Directors.
Library Career Online High School Graduating Class of 2018!
In 2016, the Long Beach Public Library began offering the Career Online High School program for local adults, who were not able to graduate during their youth, to earn their accredited high school diploma through an online program at the Library. The Library Foundation supports this program with scholarships to make this opportunity accessible to those who need it. So far, 28 students have graduated.
On March 10, 2018 nine of these students celebrated their graduation in front of family and friends. Many at the ceremony spoke of their family serving as inspiration for their hard work including commencement speaker, Tracy Colunga, Innovation Team Director for the City of Long Beach.
These graduates can now transfer their credits to continue their education at a community college or university.
Check out the video below to hear from the proud graduates themselves.
Libraries Transform for Healthy Communities
Check out the video above for a tour of the Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library Learning Garden by GrowingYourGreens.com.
2018 brings new opportunities to transform your life and embark on your healthiest year yet, and the Long Beach Public Library can help.
According to the American Library Association, more than 90 million U.S. adults have low health literacy, which means they have difficulty accessing and understanding information pertaining to health. Public libraries and librarians help bridge this gap with free resources and guidance that can help you make informed decisions about your health.
Each branch of the Long Beach Public Library contains nutritional cook books, exercise guides, and quality information to help you avoid getting sick. This flu season has been more severe than those of recent years and knowledge is power in the prevention and management of illness.
Your library is also a center of community activities and learning so that you can join others in living a healthier lifestyle. Throughout the year, the Long Beach Public Library offers the following programs:
- Healthy Living Workshops
- Cooking Classes
- Gardening Classes
- Group Exercise
- Mental Health Workshops
Check the library calendar to keep up with the latest programs: lbpl.org/events
Libraries are partners in a healthy community, so join us in making 2018 a healthy year for Long Beach.