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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 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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