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Hundreds Turn Out for Library's Grand Opening

The new West Hollywood Library officially opens with a dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony Saturday morning.

The grand opening of the on Saturday lived up to the name “grand.” Hundreds of people turned out for the dedication ceremonies and were treated to a party complete with balloons, food and fun, plus, of course, a chance to go inside the new library.

Although the temperature was already hitting the mid 80s by the time the dedication ceremonies started at 10:30 a.m., it didn’t stop city officials from welcoming the guests, inviting them to enjoy the new 32,000-square-foot library. Some dignitaries called the library the city’s “crown jewel.”

While the library has room for 150,000 books, movies and CDs, the space will likely become a place for people to gather, a community center. Between the relaxing areas to read and study, impressive views of the and plaza in front, this is a library that should attract a range of people.

Opening remarks

Of that library, Mayor John Duran said in opening remarks that it was the place where “Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, the best of all times and the worst of all times, will meet Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City, including the marijuana smoking/selling, transgendered landlady Anna Madrigal, which is just another day in the city of West Hollywood.”

Prolific author Jackie Collins, who has written 28 books including the just published Goddess of Vengeance, was on hand to offer keynote remarks.

“What better way for children to learn about life than through books,” Collins said. “Reading is our future, our children are our future, if they start reading early, it’s a fantastic thing.”

Councilman John Heilman called the new library, a “testament to us as a community that we really have come of age.”

“When we dare to dream great dreams for our city, when we dare to work hard and stay positive, we can accomplish a great deal,” Heilman said. “I would ask everyone to view this [library] as an inspiration.”

Meanwhile Councilman John D’Amico said, “West Hollywood is really a transformational place. It’s where people come to change their lives. This library is another link to that place of change and action.”

Congressman Adam Schiff (29th district), who now represents West Hollywood thanks to Congressional redistricting, was on hand offering compliments to the community for building the library.

“At a time when most communities are either shutting their libraries or reducing their hours, here in West Hollywood, you could not only expand but build this magnificent new facility,” Schiff said. “It’s an incredible tribute to the whole community and to the leadership of your city council.”

Touring inside

Once the ribbon was cut, residents poured into the building, excited both to see inside and to get away from the hot, sunny weather. City officials greeted people as they came inside.

Library staff conducted tours, pointing out the many features of the facility. Heilman, who made the library his pet project, was seen conducting personal tours throughout the afternoon.

Residents were busy examining the library’s special LGBT and HIV collections, checking to see that key titles were included. In the West Hollywood Room, a time-lapsed recording showed the complete two-year construction of the library in three minutes. Meanwhile, almost all of the library’s 47 computers were in use by early afternoon.

“I’ve been waiting years for this [library],” one resident was heard saying. “It’s everything I’ve wanted. And more.”

In the children’s section, young residents were entertained by a special musical show. Just around the corner in the separate children’s theater area, representatives of the Los Angeles County Public Library system, which operates the library, gave out free paperback copies of classic children’s titles, to encourage kids to read.

Outside on the plaza, attendees were treated to gourmet hot dogs, popcorn, cookies and homemade potato chips as a jazz band played. Library volunteers had a special booth set up where they signed up over 200 people for new library cards.

At street level, in the new City Council chambers, which the council will begin using at its meeting on Monday night, residents took the opportunity to sit behind the dais, pretending to be council members. City Clerk Corey Schaffer also demonstrated the new technology that facility offers.

Those chambers, with 140 permanent seats and room for an additional 40 chairs, can also serve as a theatre for movie screenings and live performances.

Meanwhile, just a few hundred feet up the street, behind a tarped fence sat the remains of the . People walking by the old library tried to grab a peak through the fence, some saying it was a shame it was torn down, others saying good riddance.

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Paul October 02, 2011 at 06:02 PM
I'm glad I went to enjoy the new library last week a couple of times. I would have hated seeing all those idiot council members acting like kings & queens for doing so much for West Hollywood. It's a fu_king library for Christ sake! One that was NOT necessary since Beverly Hills 2 miles away has a perfectly suitable library. The builders and construction people did a nice job but at a cost of millions of tax payers $$$, I'm sorry but it is wasteful spending when are streets and infer-structure is falling apart around us. In these tough economic times millions was spent on an unnecessary library. You have to enter that into the equation when ewwing & ahhing at the new library. You bet I'll go there and enjoy it! After all we the people helped paid for it.
Paul October 02, 2011 at 06:47 PM
California is broke, teachers are being laid off and our schools are terrible but West Hollywood has millions to spend on an unnecessary new library. Go figure? City officials like Heilman & Rizzo are why local city officials need to watched more closely. Fortunately the corruption in the city of Bell was caught and Rizzo is being prosecuted. One can ONLY wonder what misdeeds Heilman has covered up. I'm sure he has pocketed a nice piece of change from kick backs from developers. It would not surprise me one bit.
Jerome Cleary October 03, 2011 at 02:16 AM
it's a recession, the new library has 47 new computers and free WiFi and free books, free CDs and free DVDs to use. In 2011, you have to have access to the Internet to stay on the grid for life, job employment, etc. We're lucky to have the money to create this library for the residents.
Paul October 03, 2011 at 04:08 AM
All libraries offer free WF and all the other things mentioned. This is a small area. It will be interesting to see in 2 years how many people actual go there for doing work etc.... Lots of people will go probably and hang out all day like they did at the Coffee & tea shop on the corner of Robertson & Santa Monica Blvd. I liked that place but it went out of business.
Michael Brzoznowski October 03, 2011 at 04:41 AM
Thank you City Of West Hollywood. They take care of their residents & are not a ghetto anymore. We are setting examples for the world on how to be a world class city.
Jerome Cleary October 03, 2011 at 07:47 AM
Paul, there are many people without a laptop or working computer and our previous library had 4 computers which were not new. The people who cannot afford a computer or the internet need to have access to our new 47 computers at the new library. They can't go to some coffee house and use Free WiFi if they don't have a computer.
Paul October 03, 2011 at 10:39 AM
Beverly Hills & Hollywood both have large libraries have adequate computers for the small percentage of people who do not own a computer around WH. This is a high rent area area. Dirt bags have fancy cell phones with all the bells & whistles. How they afford them or the service is questionable I'm sure. My point being your rebuttal to my factual information does not hold water. The new library is nice thanks to the wonderful designer & construction crew but necessary or needed it was not when other more important problems could have been addressed with the millions spent on the new library.Council member Heilman formed a blockade pushing the new library to fruition. Other member feel as I and many residents did about the project,questionable funding etc..........
Jerome Cleary October 03, 2011 at 03:16 PM
Paul, it's not a small percentage who don't have computers as some lower income cannot afford internet access too. Some residents are older and some are handicapped and Hollywood and Beverly Hills is too far for them.
DNB October 03, 2011 at 04:11 PM
None of that explains the disgusting was that the city handled, or the fact that they lye at every turn re. affordable housing, parking .the fees at the library are exorbitant ,. They are 100% owned and operated by corporate$$$. Through the bums out. Jacky Collens? With no hint of irony, with a totally straight face... Jacky Collens, I guess actual authors, Collins does not white, to paraphrace Truman Capote, she types.
DNB October 03, 2011 at 04:15 PM
Mmmm, so there was no provision for public space in the design ctr complex? Sort of the pathetic no fur (God, that's dumb) doent apply to them. I shure there plenty of space, I never see anyone go in or out. Maybe it's a front for a secret gov't organization. Hmmmm. In any case, this whole thing stinks.
DNB October 03, 2011 at 04:17 PM
I'm sure... the pathetic fur law... I must never write anything pre coffee.
Paul October 03, 2011 at 05:50 PM
Bev.Hills library is less then a mile away. For the record, I never went to the old library but I rarely if ever go to the library. In the age of the internet, libraries are less utilized these days. Ucla has many libraries also. You can do research etc..... in the comfort of your own home rather then pack up and go to a library. I was at the new library and love it but will I use my new library card? Maybe?I REALLY like the view the new library provides of the Pacific Desin Center. I'm ever more excited about the revitalizing of the WH park. I use to live in San Diego where they have beautiful parks. We have the Observatory in Los Feliz but that a bit a distance away. West Hollywood doesn't have a nice park, so I like whats being done to West Hollywood park.
Oleg Kagan October 03, 2011 at 06:41 PM
@Paul, you wrote "libraries are less utilized these days" This may be your personal experience, but it is factually incorrect. Some stats for you: - A January 2010 Harris Poll (http://tinyurl.com/3qzab3x) - "Eighty percent (80%) of those ages 18-24, 73% ages 35-44 and 70% ages 25-34 have used their library in the past year." - An IMLS report: Public Libraries in the United States: Fiscal Year 2008 (http://tinyurl.com/3vkovec) : "In FY2008, the average individual in a library service area visited the library just over 5 times (5.1), compared to 4.3 visits per person in 1999, an increase of 19.7 percent. Overall, there were 1.50 billion public library visits in FY2008, up from 1.43 billion total visits the previous year." - In Los Angeles, according to this (http://tinyurl.com/3rm2ypn): visits have seen "10% increase over last year." - In California, people have checked out 5,049,961 more items in Fiscal Year 2009-2010, then they did in 2008-2009 (an increase of 2.12%) (Source: California State Library: http://tinyurl.com/3ndwry4) Keep in mind that all of those figures come at a time when the digital world is expanding, California's population is decreasing, libraries are facing budget cuts, and are open shorter hours. If anything, the "age of the internet" has spurred MORE people to use their libraries. Within this context, a bigger library building makes a whole lot of sense.
Oleg Kagan October 03, 2011 at 07:19 PM
You're right, many libraries do have free Wi-Fi, and many other things. But I'd just like to point out that people have always come to the library to do work. The difference between coming to the library and, say, Java Detour (the coffee shop you were referring to, I believe), is that you don't have to buy anything to do your work in the library. It's a very important distinction to make that the library is not a business; it is an organization that exists solely for the common good to provide free public access to information. Unlike nearly everywhere else, no one at the library is working on commission, being lobbied by special interest groups, or in some other way swayed - we (I freely admit that I am a librarian at the West Hollywood Library, as a simple web search reveals) work for the good of the patron in front of us. You're also right about West Hollywood being a relatively small area. In fact, the Beverly Hills Public Library is about 1.5 miles from the West Hollywood Branch, the Will & Ariel Durant Branch (of LAPL) is 3 miles away, and the Fairfax Branch (also of LAPL) is 2.3 miles away. The greater Los Angeles is an awesome area for libraries -- in a car town, nearly everyone has a library they can walk to. And with varying hours of operation, diverse physical/digital collections , and distinctive programs, each branch has something unique to offer.
Paul October 03, 2011 at 07:26 PM
Statistically speaking, the internet has made libraries less visited. Cut back are inevitable because of that. Like US mail, newspapers, magazines, the internet has changed our way of life. Time will tell what happens with the new WH library. I certainly hope it does not become a place homeless people hang out like the library in Hollywood which might be 5 years old? I could be wrong about that but when I lived here in the mid 90's it was not built yet. I will enjoy the library as a citizen here, the view it provides and the park of coarse.
Paul October 03, 2011 at 07:31 PM
Jave Detour went out of business. Apparently no one was buying anything otherwise it might not be scheduled for demolition?. We will have to see if the people who went to Java coffe house camp out at the library.
Oleg Kagan October 03, 2011 at 09:36 PM
@ Paul, you wrote "Statistically speaking, the internet has made libraries less visited." With all due respect, what statistics are you talking about? I just posted solid statistics showing that libraries are _more_ visited. Increasing visits and/or circulation in public libraries are a proven fact.
Paul October 03, 2011 at 10:59 PM
Hi Oleg, You seem like a very bright person but those Stats are not truthful otherwise libraries across the country would not be shutting there door. Books store also. Borders just went out of business. Read the Wall Street Journal. Times have changed. I'm hoping that WH does not 5 years from now regret building a million dollar library that closes it doors? I would hate to see it become a high price furniture/dress shop or worse a medical building. Not that there isn't anything wrong with those businesses.
Oleg Kagan October 04, 2011 at 12:05 AM
I appreciate the compliment, but the stats do not lie. They all come from different sources, and unless there is some sort of insidious library conspiracy out there, they point out the same thing: People are visiting their libraries more than ever. With regards to library's closing. Budget cuts are affecting all departments of most major cities. Libraries are shortening hours, and occasionally branches are closing. But, if you kept up with library news from across the country, as I do, you'd know that just as many new libraries are being built. What you take for granted, that the world wide web is taking patrons from libraries is simply untrue. Unless you can provide me with some factual (not anecdotal, mind you) information to prove otherwise, I will continue to believe what I believe. As for Borders, it is a business. Just like Java Detour, it went out of business. Many bookstores have closed ever since the beginning of bookstores. This has had little to no effect on libraries, which, as I mentioned in my comment above, are NOT a business.
Pastor Scott T. Imler October 04, 2011 at 02:33 PM
I for one think the new library is great and I appreciate the vision and tenacity of John Heilman and his Deputy Fran Solomon -- among others -- to make it happen. It is a fitting tribute to the City's 25th Anniversary and a testament to the core values of our community. Born as it was in a hotbed ofsocial and political activism, many have long lamented that WEHO lacked a "civic center." As the the anchor of the NEW West Hollywood Park, which includes an additional 3 1/2 acres of green space, the Library, the Council Chamber, and the Plaza become a world class Civic Center for a world class City. As a homeland for the Gayaspora and for so many from the former Soviet Union who came seeking to breathe free, West Hollywood isn't just an address, it's an aspiration - and a state of mind. Through smart fiscal management and a dedicated effort to engage a radically diverse citizenry in the process of governance, West Hollywood is not only alive, it's solvent, it's capable, and it's on the march. Sure $64 million is a sizable chunk of change, but I couldn't have picked a more worthwhile project for all my parking ticket money over the years than this Library. My hat is off to the City Council, City Staff and the City CITIZENS for keeping their eye on the prize over the last 25 years and creating one of the most fabulous and beautiful urban enclaves in the country -- a place we can all live, work, and play sided by side and be proud to call "home."

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