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.
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.”
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.