From Our President
I am honored to serve as President of the Long Beach Public Library Foundation for 2019. The Foundation has a long and generous history in Long Beach.
Starting in 1996, the Foundation, through charitable contributions, has provided funding for programs to improve literacy and education throughout our city’s libraries. These funds have supported many vital programs for children, teens, families, seniors, veterans, the disabled, and anyone else who visits the Library. This support was instrumental in the Library receiving the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor for libraries.
We learned in 2018 that there is a serious “digital divide” in our city. A 2016 American Community Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that 25% of Long Beach households do not have an adequate internet connection. This means that in these households children cannot do their homework online, that parents and other individuals cannot pay their bills online, and 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 is the city’s leader in providing computer access for free, but the time offered is limited. Long Beach residents need more access. Library Foundation supported resources like the Family Learning Center program, which includes one-on-one guidance and technology for homework help and job-search support, provide that additional access. In the Library’s 2018 fiscal year, 22,281 patrons were served by the Family Learning Center program.
I am also proud to say that the the state-of-the-art Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library continues to draw many visitors each month as the largest neighborhood library branch in Long Beach. The Library Foundation raised over $1 million in support for programs and enhancements at the Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library. Those funds are still benefiting patrons today.
In the Fall of 2016, 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, 38 students have graduated, several with plans to further their education at a community college or university.
As always the Library Foundation is dedicated to literacy. In 2018 the Library Foundation supported the launch of the Library’s new early literacy program, Dive into Reading. This program helps parents and guardians read 1,000 books or more to their children before kindergarten to raise lifelong readers. We also celebrated the 15th anniversary of the Dictionary Days program with the Earl B. and Loraine H. Miller Foundation. Thanks to our partnership with the Miller Foundation, over 120,000 dictionary/thesaurus books have been gifted to Long Beach 3rd grade students since 2003.
The Long Beach Public Library system has proven to be a true “library of the future.” With approximately 1 million visitors every year, we know that libraries are critical to our city’s economic development, its educational foundation, and its safety net.
We are currently in our campaign for the new Main Library, scheduled to open its doors in Summer 2019. There are many ways in which our generous donors can participate in this campaign. Learn more at LBPLfoundation.org/newmain.
On behalf of our outstanding librarians, our terrific Foundation staff and our dedicated board members, 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.
Barbara Schwerin, Board President