Ocean Beach Library – citizens rally to keep libraries open.
(Click on the pictures to see larger versions of them)
OCEAN BEACH, SAN DIEGO CA. “We are hopin’ to keep the doors open!” was chanted today throughout the downtown business district of Ocean Beach, as 150 O.B. residents and library supporters rallied in front of the historic branch library building.
Piggy-backing off the OB Library Friends’ book sale, the rally began around noon as residents swarmed the corner in front of the library, many hugging the curbs with colorful signs and getting supportive honks in return.
Organized by a loose network of groups – the OB Historical Society, the Friends of the OB Library, and the OB Rag blog, the spirited sign-waving and rally was at the intersection of Sunset Cliffs Blvd and Santa Monica Ave, held to oppose Mayor Jerry Sander’s proposal to close the Ocean Beach branch as well as 6 others – all for budgetary reasons.
Frank Gormlie, editor of this blog, started the speakers off with a welcome to the crowd, and then he laid out important upcoming dates. A strategy meeting is to be held next Tuesday at a local resident’s home, and he urged everyone to attend the next City Council hearing on the budget, scheduled for next Wednesday, the 19th. Car-pooling has been set up.
Pat James, head of the OB Historical Society, gave a spirited spiel about the history of the OB Library and the building itself. The original library was on Abbott Street, across from what’s now the Lifeguard Station, and the actual building where it now sits has been designated an historical site. Just this past Spring, the Library celebrated its 80th birthday. Now it’s on Mayor Sander’s chopping block.
Suzi More spoke as President of the Friends of the OB Library, thanking the crowd profusely for turning out. She described all the programs the OB branch offers – many for kids. It has an annual circulation of 105,000 books and other materials. 14,000 people went there in October, 18,000 last August. There’s 2500 internet and computer users monthly, she said. Also speaking was Anna Daniels, an actual City librarian speaking for herself. She asked the crowd where all the books from the closed libraries would go, and reminded us that libraries are very important for democratic societies, as they give us “free, unobstructed access to information,” which is essential. (Go here to see video of Frank and Anna speaking)
Steven Heverly, representing the OB Town Council, announced to the crowd that the Town Council had voted to oppose the branch’s closure. Another sign of support against any closure came from the OB Peoples Food Coop – it was announced that the store had closed its doors for an hour to allow staff and customers to attend the rally. John Rivera, chief of staff for Councilmember Kevin Faulconer, informed us that his boss will do what he can do to keep the branch open. James Lawson, also of Faulconer’s office, was in the crowd as well. And finally, Scott Andrews advised the gathering of other sources of money to fix the budget.
The crowd was admonished to sign three petitions: a general one to oppose the library’s closure; another petition of those residents who are willing to work as volunteers with the library staff so it wouldn’t have to close; and a third of those who are willing to non-violently block the library’s permanent closure.
After the final applause had died down, it was announced that everyone was asked to walk down Newport Avenue on the sidewalks to inform the rest of Ocean Beach. And that’s exactly what happened – with chants and signs, a long line of OBcians flowed down the business district and staged a quick little rally at the foot of Newport Avenue.
Bob James reminded everyone of the City Council hearing. The group then returned to the library, again with the chants: “We are hopin’ to keep the doors open !” and “Open libraries, open minds!” A lot of folks in the shops, restaurants and bars smiled and gave thumbs up.
The word has gotten out. O.B. is on the move. It won’t let its library be closed.
And by the way, it was really good to see you all out there. See comment below for times and dates of important upcoming stuff on the library.
~Patty and Frank