Champion of Literacy J.P. Shotwell
As new technology emerges and informational needs change, libraries evolve to better serve their communities. Long Beach Public Libraries are no different. They now house 3D printers, virtual STEAM camps, laptop and Internet hotspot checkout programs, music recording studios, state-of-the-art adaptive technology for disabled patrons, and a wide arrange of e- and audiobooks. Much of these changes have been supported by the Long Beach Public Library Foundation and championed by J.P. Shotwell.
In 2012, J.P. joined the Library Foundation’s board of directors as a philanthropic representative for Southern California Edison where he is the Director of Corporate Compliance and Information Governance. His colleague, Les Stark, previously served on the board and invited J.P. to one of the Foundation’s exclusive “Miller Lunches,” during which guests enjoyed a meal in the chestnut-walled Miller Special Collections Room. They dined among a collection of unique treasures donated by the Miller family, including rare texts dating back to the 15th century, Chinese and Japanese art and ceramics, and American and European art and photographs. The room, located in the Main Library, was made possible thanks to a generous gift in 1974 from Loraine Miller Collins in memory of her late husband, Earl Burns Miller. The original room was modeled after a room in the Miller home. When it moved to the new Billie Jean King Main Library in 2019, the architects worked with the Earl B. and Loraine H. Miller Foundation to redesign the room to adapt to the more modern design of the new Library, and the programmatic needs of the community.
Inspired by the American Library Association’s Center for the Future of Libraries which worked to identify emerging trends relevant to libraries, librarians, and communities, J.P. was charged with answering the question, “What will the Library be in 2025?” He co-chaired the Library of the Future Committee with Mary Lamo-Putnam. The committee traveled to new libraries in San Diego, Santa Monica, Newport Beach, and Cerritos to tour the modern buildings and observe innovative service delivery models. This research would inform the Library Foundation’s involvement in the development of two new libraries in Long Beach—the Michelle Obama Neighborhood and Billie Jean King Main Libraries.
In addition to his roles as Co-Chair of the Library of the Future Committee, J.P. served as Treasurer, provided his guidance on the Finance Committee, Public Affairs Committee, Board Development Committee, and served an extended term as Board President.
In September of 2016, as board president, J.P. spoke to a crowd of more than 5,000 people who had attended the grand opening of the Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library. J.P. announced the results of the Foundation’s most successful fundraising campaign to date, which raised more than $1 million for programs, technology, and enhancements at the new library. Less than a year later, the Foundation would launch a similar campaign that raised more than $3.3 million in funds for the new Billie Jean King Main Library, which opened in 2019.
While JP served on the board during some of the Foundation’s most headline-grabbing accomplishments, including the Library’s acceptance of the National Medal for Museum and Library Services, the nation’s highest honor given to libraries, J.P. is most proud of how he helped the Library Foundation itself evolve. When J.P. became President in 2016, the Foundation had just hired an entirely new staff. In fact, J.P. sat on the committee to recruit current Executive Director Kate Azar who, in turn, rebuilt the staff to its current levels. J.P. and Kate worked together to advance the Library Foundation to a more sophisticated operation modeled from some of the nonprofit industry’s best practices. This included better financial reporting, board term-limits, and more professional systems and procedures. Because of these accomplishments, the Foundation’s impact has grown exponentially, its board better reflects the Long Beach community, and it has become known as a model nonprofit organization.
The Library Foundation has benefitted greatly from J.P.’s personal generosity, his tireless advocacy for libraries, his countless volunteer hours, his expertise, and his friendship. While J.P. was the strongest proponent for board term-limits, his involvement on our board will be sorely missed. We know we will continue to see J.P., his wife, Kimberly, and their three children, James, Harry, and Juanita, at their neighborhood branch— the Bay Shore Library.