Long Beach Public Library Foundation

A Family Developing Their Future at the FLC

Sagrario with her four children and a Learning Guide at the Dana Library Family Learning Center.

Sagrario works hard to help her children to succeed. She is a mother to three daughters and one son, all high school students, who are not only given challenging homework, but are also looking ahead and planning for college. Although she does not speak English, Sagrario found a great resource at the Long Beach Public Library to give her children the guidance they need.

Sagrario and her children are one of many families in Long Beach that cannot afford an Internet connection. According to a 2016 American Community Survey, an estimated 1 in 4 Long Beach households lacks an adequate portal to the Internet. This makes researching and completing homework difficult for her kids who are usually required to complete their assignments with the use of a computer.

A little over a year ago, Sagrario and her children started visiting the Dana Neighborhood Library for a quiet place to study. It was there that they discovered the Family Learning Center. The space is equipped with computers, a printer, text books and, most importantly, a qualified Learning Guide is available to provide one-on-one assistance with homework. They currently visit the Family Learning Center about four days per week and stay for almost three hours every time.

The Family Learning Center program began in 1999 with the support of the Long Beach Public Library Foundation to provide students and job seekers with one-on-one guidance and resources. The program has evolved through the years to include virtual tools and the Library’s makerspace Studio program with instruction in advanced technology. In the Library’s 2018 fiscal year, the Family Learning Center program held 22,281 sessions thanks to generous donations to the Library Foundation.

“The Family Learning Center has helped me actually get my homework done on time with my crazy schedule,” said Sagrario’s daughter.

After they are done with homework, her children use the computers in the Family Learning Center to look up colleges they would like to attend. They are currently looking at universities in Hawaii and Utah.

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A Library and a Family

For many, a library is a home away from home where they can find a quiet and friendly place to study, research and read. For Lorrie Hutton, this goes one step further. When talking about how she joined the Long Beach Public Library Foundation Board of Directors, she talks about how much it was like joining a family.

“I had never seen that type of camaraderie before. That’s not to say we didn’t have our problems but it was truly like family.”

Family is very important to Lorrie. She grew up Oklahoma and Texas and her mother placed great importance on libraries, researching and looking up words in dictionaries. Lorrie remembers when the bookmobile would come around her neighborhood in Oklahoma and how fun it was to pick out her next read.

A job with American Honda Motor Company prompted a move from Texas to California about 30 years ago. Her first home was near the ocean in Redondo Beach which convinced her to stay and live close to the beach.

After moving to Long Beach, she became friends with one of the founders of the Library Foundation, Margaret Durnin.  Lorrie was originally asked to join the Board of Directors in 1996 when the Library Foundation was first formed, but turned down the offer due to her busy work schedule.

In 2005, Margaret asked her again to join the Library Foundation Board. This time Lorrie was looking for a way to branch out and meet other people in the community and she agreed.

Some of Lorrie’s favorite memories from serving on the Library Foundation Board are of the Booked event series. One of her favorite guests was Jeffrey Weaver, Curator of Sculpture & Decorative Arts at the Getty, who spoke about the book, Gods of Angkor: Bronzes from the National Museum of Cambodia by Louise Allison Cort and Paul Jett. Jeffrey was co-curator of the exhibition that was organized by the Getty, the Smithsonian and the National Museum of Cambodia.

In her 13 years on the Board, Lorrie was elected to the roles of President, Vice President, Secretary, and Vice President of Finance. She has helped guide the Library Foundation through exciting times like the fundraising campaigns for the Mark Twain Neighborhood Library and Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library, as well as challenging times like the campaign to keep Main Library open when the city considered shutting it down.

She looks forward to the opening of the new Main Library and treasures the memories that brought the Library Foundation to the success it is today.

From left to right: Susan Redfield, Lorrie Hutton, and Margaret Durnin at the opening of the Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library in September 2016.

A Love of Literacy from Coast to Coast

When Susan Redfield was in high school she would use money she saved from baby-sitting to take the train to New York City. She would usually go to the theatre when she arrived, but would also visit the New York Public Library. It was there that she began discovering the treasures that could be found at public libraries and developed a love of literacy.

As a teen, Susan was a fan of Albert Hirschfeld, a cartoonist whose work was featured in Playbill, The New Yorker Magazine, New York Magazine, and other popular publications. While looking for Hirschfeld’s works in these publications at the New York Public Library, Susan discovered short stories by John Updike and J.D. Salinger. The Librarian invited her to the archives section of Library to find more stories and books she would like. Susan remembers feeling like she was meeting The Beatles as the Librarian guided her around.

In 1997, when she moved to Long Beach after working as a social worker and attorney in Chicago, Susan was looking to get involved in her new community. In Chicago, Susan had been involved in raising funds for children’s playgrounds, the zoo and her church, and was hoping to apply her experience in philanthropy to causes that were important to her in Long Beach.

One of the first friends she made when she arrived was Diane Jacobus who is one of the founders of the Long Beach Public Library Foundation and at that time was a Senior Advisor to Mayor Beverly O’Neill. The two of them started a book club together and Diane would tell Susan about the great work that the Library Foundation accomplished.

In 1999, Diane introduced Susan to Gene Richey, the Executive Director of the Library Foundation, who invited her to join the Endowment Committee, Chaired by Margaret Durnin. And in 2001, she began serving on the Long Beach Reads One Book committee where she met her friend Mary Barton. Long Beach Reads One Book brought different authors to the city every year for a series of events to inspire reading among residents of all ages. Meeting Ray Bradbury when he was the featured author in 2005 is one Susan’s favorite memories of this program.

In 2004, Gene Richey invited Susan to join the Board of Directors for the Library Foundation. She still has the letter of invitation and is amazed it has been so many years since that day.

In addition to continuing to help organize Long Beach Reads One Book for several more years, Susan was elected to the role of Vice President of Fund Development for two terms and is completing her term as President this year.

Susan’s dedication to the Library Foundation has helped the Foundation expand and support the Library in evolving to meet the changing needs of the city. Her love of literacy has been shared not only with those closest to her, but with the entire Long Beach community.

Susan Redfield speaking at the 2018 Grape Expectations fundraiser for the Library Foundation.

A Champion of Literacy’s Inspiration

Librarians are known for inspiring children to explore new worlds in books and helping to answer questions for homework, but they often go above and beyond in important and inspiring ways.

Kim Neipling was always involved in supporting libraries. As a high school student she could be often found in her library in El Centro, CA working part time in the children’s section. She formed a close relationship with the librarian, Romaine Magee, who was also a friend of Kim’s grandmother. When Kim left to attend California State University, Long Beach, Romaine sent her $50 every month to help support her studies. This act of kindness and generosity stayed with Kim and motivated her to look for ways to give back.

In 2007, Kim’s friend Lorrie Hutton invited her to join the Board of Directors of the Long Beach Public Library Foundation. As a Board member she co-chaired the event committee for the Library Foundation’s signature Grape Expectations fundraiser for four years in a row. She was also elected to the roles of Secretary, Nominating Chair, and Vice President of Board Development and invited several people to join the Board and watched them flourish in their dedication to libraries.

Having earned her degree in Microbiology Medical Technology, Kim continues to be inspired by how the Long Beach Public Library advances and provides new and exciting services. When the makerspace Studio opened at Main Library in 2014, Kim was amazed to see high school students and older retired patrons learning new technology and software in the same space. She witnessed a 3D model of a heart being printed in the Studio and was proud to be involved with a Library that is so ahead of its time.

From her time helping out her local library to raising funds for library programs and helping the Library Foundation grow, Kim is a true champion of literacy and education in Long Beach.

From Job Seeker to Paralegal

Megan needed a job so she turned to the Library Foundation supported Family Learning Center at the Mark Twain Neighborhood Library. Read her letter of gratitude below.

I have been searching for a job in my new profession for 18 months and have had no luck…until today! I just received an offer letter to which I accepted.

The library resources at Mark Twain have been a God-send during my search. In addition, the Library staff have been extremely supportive and so kind. They truly made my job search experience better by just being here. They have been so supportive and helpful. It felt as if they were part of my job search team.

I earned my paralegal certificate and finally was offered a paralegal position at a tremendous family law practice so I would like to thank you.

I’m excited to start the next chapter of my life.

Thank you again,
Name has been changed at writer’s request.
Learn how you can support the Family Learning Center program and other free library services that make a difference in the lives of library patrons like Megan.

A Family Tradition of Supporting Libraries

Susan DeLand has served on the Long Beach Public Library Foundation Board of Directors since 2002, but it wasn’t until earlier this year that she discovered that supporting libraries runs in her family.

Susan has been surrounded by books her entire career. An extensive career in publishing allowed her to work with beautiful art and historical works. In her role as Head of Retail & Merchandise Development for the J. Paul Getty Museum, she sat on the Executive Editorial Committee of Getty Publications. Her role was to literally judge books by their covers. Susan is currently series editor and author of a list of biographies for Benna Books.

Prior to joining the Foundation Board, Susan was a member of the task force to rebuild the Central Library in Los Angeles when it burned in 1986.

Diane Jacobus, former Long Beach Public Library Foundation Board President, recruited Susan to join the Board of Directors. In her role on the Board, she assists the Library Foundation in connecting with a wider audience, creating literary events with authors, sitting on the Library of the Future committee, and serving as Vice President of Fund Development and Vice President of Board Development.

One of Susan’s favorite library memories from the last few years was when she signed the first steel beam erected at the construction site of what will become the new Main Library in 2019. This was not Susan’s first time signing a construction beam. She was an executive on the building teams of several other nonprofit organizations including the Autry Museum of the American West, the Aquarium of the Pacific, and the J. Paul Getty Museum, and signed beams in each of those institutions as they were being built.

Susan has always known that her grandmother, Winifred DeLand, was an extraordinary woman from whom she inherited her love of gardening and books. However, during a recent visit to her mother’s house to go through old family records, she discovered that in addition to supporting several arts and education organizations and being a suffragette, her grandmother also served on the Library Foundation Board of Directors in the Monterey Park, California region for 12 years.

Susan is very proud to carry on both her grandmother’s traditions of social disruption and of championing literacy. “Grandma’s twinkling star is shining on me,” she said.

From left to right: Susan DeLand, Ron Brown, Anil Pandya, Abha Pandya, and Susan Redfield at the 2018 Carnegie 49 event.

Celebrating the History of the Friends

To further the principle that a well informed populis and freedom to read are essential to the well being of our community and secondly to focus public attentions on the library’s needs, services and facilities.

City Librarian Blanche Collins in 1968. From the Long Beach Public Library Digital Archives.

This is the official purpose outlined by the founding members of the Friends of the Long Beach Public Library in 1963 when they established themselves as a group. 55 years later, the Friends still has a strong membership and makes a difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of library patrons every year through their volunteerism, advocacy, and fundraising.

Libraries are our centers for equal access to education and community building resources, but sometimes these much-needed services are challenged. In 1962, The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazantzakis was challenged at the Long Beach Public Library. Those asking for its removal accused the Library of promoting communism by carrying the book in the collection. The Director of Library Services at the time, Blanche Collins, spoke before the City Council of the importance of not censoring the Library’s collection. Literacy supporters joined her at this meeting and, with the support of Mayor Edwin W. Wade, the book was not removed from shelves.

Friends of the Long Beach Public Library President Patricia Benoit with the first place winners of the 2018 Summer Reading Essay Contest.

Unfortunately, the challenges continued and it wasn’t long before an organization in Long Beach requested a ban of The American Way of Death by Jessica Mitford, books by Langston Hughes, works by Pete Seeger, and records recommended by UNESCO. Again the complaint of these works was that the literature promoted communist ideals.

Blanche Collins once again spoke before the City Council with many supporters in attendance. At this meeting, Collins said that facilities of the library are welcome to all patrons. She spoke of the importance of allowing works documenting extreme ideas on both ends of the spectrum to provide the access to information and learning.

Collins received calls and piles of mail in support. Thanks to this and the many supporters who accompanied Collins to the City Council meeting, the works were not censored.

These library supporters mobilized and on December 8, 1963, the Friends of the Long Beach Public Library held their first formal meeting. Among the founding members, was Renee Simon who would go on to become one of the first women to be elected to the Long Beach City Council.

In 1996, several members of the Friends Board, including Margaret Durnin, formed the Long Beach Public Library Foundation as a separate organization originally shepherded by the Friends.

Today, the Friends of the Long Beach Public Library continues to be one of the most prominent volunteer groups in Long Beach. Patricia Benoit, who joined the Friends in 1999, serves as President and leads the Friends through the annual essay contest for youth, Egyud Memorial Scholarship award, and annual membership luncheon.

Learn more about the Friends of the Long Beach Public Library at lbpl.org/support/friends.

The Friends of the Long Beach Public Library and librarians at the 2017 holiday parade.

A Deep Dive into Reading – A Library Story

You can support free library programs that make a difference in the lives of families like Kadrin’s. Click the link below to make a tax-deductible donation. Any amount makes a difference.

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“You can see how her imagination is growing and she is learning all these new words,” Kadrin says as she watches her daughter explore the children’s section of the Main Library. They have been visiting the Library since her daughter was only 8 months old, enjoying the weekly Baby Storytime. Now they attend the Toddler Storytime and visit the Library at least twice per week. They have visited several Long Beach Public Libraries, but Main Library is their favorite thanks to the many children’s programs and the extensive collection of books.

Kadrin registered for the Dive into Reading program in April of this year when it first launched. The program is supported by donations to the Library Foundation and provides parents and guardians with tools and resources to help them read 1,000 books to their children before kindergarten. Book trackers are provided and guidance from librarians is available as well as opportunities to earn prizes. Progress walls have appeared at some of the libraries where families can see how far they’ve come in reaching the 1,000-book goal. Kadrin and her daughter have read over 620 books so far.

While the program encourages caregivers to read any children’s book, including repeating favorite books to their children, Kadrin took this as a challenge to complete the program by only reading new books from the Library. The popular Llama Llama series is a favorite of her daughter’s along with stories by Dr. Seuss and other books that rhyme or have a rhythm.

Kadrin also incorporates language lessons into her reading sessions. She reads the books in English first and then reads them again in her native Estonian to teach her daughter both languages. Since her daughter does not attend pre-school, the Library’s free programs like Dive into Reading and weekly storytime events provide social interaction and valuable learning opportunities.

A yellow fish marks Kadrin’s daughter’s progress on a nautically decorated wall in the Main Library children’s section. They are excited to continue the program and read 1,000 books and beyond before kindergarten.

Enter to learn. Go forth to serve.

Photo: Long Beach Public Library. Mary Hinds with her husband, Lt. Col. Steve Hinds, at the June 9, 2018 Main Library Veterans Resource Center.

“Enter to learn. Go forth to serve.” These are the words carved into the arch that Mary Hancock Hinds walked through every time she entered Long Beach Polytechnic High School as a student. Mary heard the message loud and clear and went on to become a true champion of education and community involvement in Long Beach.

Mary was born and raised in Long Beach and has been a life-long visitor of the public libraries. She signed up for her first library card in 1949 and has since turned to the Library whenever she was interested in learning something new. Mary went on to inspire learning in countless young people. After earning her BA from Mills College and her MA from Cal State Los Angeles, she taught in Long Beach, Carson, Belgium, and Okinawa, Japan. She also worked as an education reporter for the Press-Telegram.

In 1999, Mary returned to Long Beach when her husband, Lt. Col. Steve Hinds, retired from the Marine Corps. Mayor Beverly O’Neill connected Mary with Margaret Durnin and Gene Richey who invited Mary to join the Long Beach Public Library Foundation Board of Directors. Mary contributed her many talents to the Board in various roles including Board Secretary, Co-chair of the Grape Expectations fundraiser, newsletter writer, and public relations representative.

However, one of Mary’s greatest acts of service to literacy and education came when she Co-chaired the Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library Campaign with fellow Board member Rick Alsagoff. The campaign earned over $1 million in donations to support programs at the Library which opened in the Fall of 2016. The new Library is the largest and most modern of the city’s neighborhood branch libraries. It serves as a replacement to the previous North Long Beach Library where Mary received her first library card as a child.

Today, Mary serves as a member of the Board of Directors of several Long Beach community organizations including the Library Foundation, WomenShelter Long Beach, the Rancho Los Cerritos Foundation, and the Historical Society of Long Beach. She co-founded the Long Beach Human Trafficking Task Force and is a member of the Junior League of Long Beach.

A lifelong Elvis fan, Mary’s groundbreaking book, Infinite Elvis, is found in more than 150 public and university libraries worldwide, as well as the archives at Graceland. She just completed a children’s mystery novel set at Rancho Los Cerritos in the 1880s.

Mary still visits the Library to learn and serve her community.

Expanding Horizons – A Library Story

You can support much-needed free Library programs for your Long Beach neighbors, like Saram, with a tax-deductible gift.

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At 27 years-old, Saram Routh knew it wasn’t too late to achieve her dream of earning her high school diploma, but she wasn’t quite sure how to get started on this goal. When Saram was a teenager, schooling had to take the back burner to pressing personal life issues. As she became older and more mature, she realized that not having a high school diploma was keeping her from making the best life possible for her beautiful, supportive family.

Photo: Long Beach Public Library. Saram Routh (Right) with General Librarian and Career Online High School Coordinator, Gina Robinson

Luckily, a few of Saram’s family members and friends had personal experience with Career Online High School, an accredited high school completion program offered by Long Beach Public Library through a partnership with Gale, a Cengage company. The Long Beach Public Library Foundation supports this program with scholarships, giving students the opportunity to earn their diploma for free.

“I’m always on the go,” shared Saram. “Every day I take my kids from school, work at my full-time job, keep an eye on my kids when they’re home, make my family dinner and do a million other things. I knew that for a program to work, I would need to be able to complete it on my schedule and from wherever I happened to be at the time.” Fortunately, Career Online High School is 100% online, so students can access their course materials at any time on their computers or on one the computers at any of the 12 Long Beach Public Libraries.

Gina Robinson, Career Online High School coordinator and librarian at the Long Beach Public Library, sees the Career Online High School program as a perfect complement to the other Long Beach Public Library programs: “Like our city, the library is always changing,” she said. “Libraries are for education and lifelong learning, and Career Online High School is a key component in that.” The library admitted its first adult students just two short years ago and has already celebrated the achievements of 36 graduates, including Saram. Currently, 40 Long Beach residents are working their way through the program, and the library still has many scholarships available to residents who are 19-years-old or older and would like to apply. Learn more about the application process at lbpl.org/events/cohs.

“Overall, my success with the program has helped further my belief that life isn’t about finding yourself — it’s about creating yourself,” shared Saram. Creating yourself is easiest when you have a support network to help you along the way. “My academic coach throughout this process provided that support for me,” she said. “She motivated me with kind words and pushed me to realize my full potential even when I was losing faith.” Each Career Online High School student is assigned their own personal academic coach to provide feedback about progress and offer connections to additional resources, should the student need them.

What’s next for Saram? The future is wide open! “I see big changes ahead now that I’ve earned my diploma and filled this missing point of my life. Doors have opened for me, and I’m already finding opportunities that I couldn’t have dreamed of before.” Saram plans to go to college once she determines what specific career is her passion. “The only way to do great work is to love what you do, and now I have the foundation I need to explore my passions!”

Story prepared in partnership with Gale, a Cengage company.

Photo: Long Beach Public Library. (Left to right) Saram Routh with her fellow graduates at their August 18, 2018 graduation ceremony; Dr. Tiffany Brown, LBUSD Assistant Superintendent and commencement speaker; Glenda Williams, Director of Library Services.