Mission and History

20 years ago, the Long Beach Public Library Foundation began with the mission to provide support to enhance Long Beach Public Libraries and encourage literacy and education for all members of the community.


  • LBPLF is founded on May 5, 1996 by Margaret Durnin, Bob Kilpatrick, Helena Belisle, Robert Campbell, and Carl Schafer.


  • The first Family Learning Center is established at Burnett Library.


  • Family Learning Centers are opened in all 12 branches of the Long Beach Public Library, serving students and parents with computer access and paid homework and study assistance.


  • The Family Learning Centers receive the Helen Putnam Award for Community Partnership Excellence from the League of California Cities.
  • UCLA calls the Family Learning Centers a “model for the nation” in its study of library-based homework help programs.
  • Long Beach Reads One Book officially begins, choosing a book by a living author, attempting to bring the author to Long Beach, and hosting events throughout the city to celebrate the book. Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie becomes the inaugural selection.
  • The Foundation introduces an English Language Learning Program, an 18-month program to address early education learning with one-on-one assistance and computers and software for those learning English as a second language.


  • Boeing awards the Foundation and Family Learning Centers with its Crystal Vision Award, honoring organizations addressing specific community needs.
  • The Foundation receives the Friends of Education Government Award from the Long Beach Teachers Association for its collaboration in creating the Family Learning Centers.
  • The Foundation introduces Raising a Reader, a program to connect and introduce parents and their small children to the resources of the public library. The program prepares children 0-5 years of age for kindergarten by providing in-home family reading assistance that guides them in developing reading skills.


  • The Earl B. and Loraine H. Miller Foundation provides funding for the Foundation’s first Dictionary Day program, providing dictionaries for all Long Beach Unified School District 3rd Graders each year, hosting activities to promote literacy using the dictionaries. More than 100,000 dictionaries have been given since the program’s inception.


  • Fundraising begins for the expanded Family Learning Center at the new Mark Twain Neighborhood Library, eventually raising a $1 million endowment.
  • The Raising a Reader program receives the Outstanding Neighborhood Project Award from the Long Beach Community Development Association.


  • Harvard University profiles the Raising a Reader program in its research brief titled “Family Involvement Makes a Difference in Student Success.” The program is recognized as a model on Capitol Hill.


  • The Foundation, Library, and community leaders collaborate on the new Mark Twain branch, which opens and becomes the first public building in Long Beach to receive a Silver Medal Award from the Leaders in Energy and Environmental Design Program of the U.S. Green Building Council.


  • Stanford University School of Medicine research positions the Raising a Reader program as a model organization for childhood development at the National Zero to Three Conference in Los Angeles.
  • The Library counts 1.5 million visits, as many as the national tourist destination, the Aquarium of the Pacific.


  • The Foundation announces Carnegie49, the endowment fund to encourage citizens to leave a donation to the organization in their trust or will.
  • The Foundation launches The Studio, a makerspace featuring 3D printers, Adobe Creative Suite design software, and other design tools. In 2015 the Studio announces a partnership with the Long Beach Veterans Affairs Hospital to 3D print an exoskeleton for a prosthetic leg for a soldier returned from Iraq.


  • SpecialConnect is launched at the Main Library, a place for children with special needs with specialized books, toys, and events. Items include sensory bins, adaptive apps, and multisensory reading experiences to encourage literacy and education in all children.


  • The Foundation celebrates its 20th anniversary.
  • The new Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library opens in North Long Beach. The Foundation raises $1 million for special programs and services prior to its opening.