UPDATED WITH REPORTS FROM CARMEL MOUNTAIN, UNIVERSITY COMMUNITY, BENJAMIN & UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS BRANCH LIBRARY RALLIES – see below.
OCEAN BEACH, CA. Dozens of Ocean Beach residents turned out today to rally in front of the OB Library, as part of the community’s effort to save the local branch. Many waved signs to passing motorists, and received nearly universal horn hooks or thumbs up in response.. The rally at the corner of Sunset Cliffs Boulevard and Santa Monica Avenue was held in conjunction with actions at all seven branches slated for closure by Mayor Jerry Sanders’ proposed budget cuts. Even Councilmember Kevin Faulconer showed up to show his support for keeping the historical building open.
Today’s event – which included a good 50 people – was held by a loose network of OB groups that have coalesced around the issue of keeping the branch open. The loose network includes the OB Historical Society, the OB Rag blog, and the Friends of the Ocean Beach Library, plus many concerned OBceans. This OB network is tied into the city-wide network that has risen, primarily around the different branches slated for closure, and involves the Friends of the San Diego Library. Even though these networks, in the main, are new, loose, and fragile, they have definitely had an effect.
Councilmember Faulconer acknowledged the effect of OB’s grassroots efforts and the city-wide efforts as well today, as he thanked the crowd for their work in keeping the Ocean Beach branch open. Faulconer then stated the following:
“I just wanted to let you know, unequivocally, that I will not be voting to shut down this library.”
This was immediately followed by cheers and applause. (See the video of Councilmember Faulconer below.)
The gathering was opened by Frank Gormlie, editor of OB Rag, who gave an update on the issue. OBceans, he said, had attended the City Council hearing this past Wednesday, and had turned in 1200 signatures of residents and supporters opposed to the branch’s closure. The Council had put off any decision-making, until this upcoming Monday’s hearing, he said, to be held from 1 to 4pm at City Hall.
Carol Bowers, one of OB’s chief historians, was then introduced. She encouraged the crowd, and said: “We just have to keep up our energy and keep pushing until we get this library clenched down and not have to go through this every couple of years.”
The head of the OB Historical Society, Pat James, spoke next. Pat said: “This (library) is a very integral part of our community, it’s very high profile, we’ve got the school, the churches, the post office – it would be a darn shame to have this branch close down, or any of the branches.” (See video of Bowers and James below.)
Gormlie then spoke, and referring to his anti-OB Starbucks T-shirt, he said, “I wore this shirt to point out that librarians are not like part-time Baristas at Starbucks. They’re professionals; they’re licensed and certified,” pointing out the City can’t run a library with a bunch of part-time workers. He said he had changed his position of being okay with reduced hours at all the branches a week ago, but that now, he explained: “The libraries have already had enough cut-backs. We don’t want to see any libraries closed, and no reduced hours.” He urged people to keep the pressure up on the Mayor and the Council, and to either attend or watch the Monday Hearing on Public Access Ch. 24. The rally ended with people maintaining the sign vigil along the sidewalks.
Rallies and Support At Other Branches
Events at the various library branches slated for closure were also held. Many of the branches had leafleting from 9:30 am to 2:30pm. (Anyone with photos or reports of their libraries’ actions can email them to us or use the comments section.]
An estimated 50 people showed up to carry signs on the sidewalks in front of their branch on Park Avenue. The Henry’s market next door donated cases of water to the library supporters. Someone else donated bagels. A Union-Tribune reporter interviewed activists there.
Steve Downs reported:
I was at the University Heights rally from 9 AM until 2:30 PM, handing out over 300 flyers (we ran out) and stickers, and gathering around 300 signatures opposing any library closures.
The turnout was fantastic. I met a great cross-section of the community: the unemployed job seeker who regularly visits to use the Internet and check up on prospects who engaged a visiting city council member-elect Todd Gloria (Mr. Gloria supports open libraries); the family who brought their young daughter down to make signs and wave them with the overflow crowd in the median; the father who brought his young stroller-bound infant into the thick of the crowd for a “My First Protest” photo opportunity.
Thanks everyone for making the rally a success. City Council meets tomorrow to make a decision on the budget issue. Let them know once more before then we can’t take any more cuts to the tattered library budget. It’s important to let other member outside your district know too.
Beckworth Branch in Mountain View – Library supporters marched over to the Educational Cultural Complex to recruit students getting out of class. Donuts were donated by citizens. Fox News also showed up.
Benjamin Branch in Allied Gardens – A noon rally attracted nearly 100 residents in support of their branch. Local businesses supported the efforts by donating poster and sign-making materials, and drinking water. Rally organizers had a live PA system. By 2:30, 35 people were still present. Organizers had the idea of dropping all their signs off at their City Councilmember’s office.
Here’s an update from Shelia Padgett:
Benjamin update – PA system at Benjamin’s rally was provided by Dr. Bonita, Comedy Stage Hypnotist. Drinking water provided by Albertson’s on Waring Road, and sign supplies by Long’s Drugstore. KUSI-TV and Channel 10 News showed up for filming both inside and outside the Library. Dr. Bonita provided music and provided non-stop support of our rally for over 3 hours. Support from all over Allied Gardens, including Friends of Benjamin Library. Over 1,300 signatures have been collected over the past week by Valorie Mathews and will be delivered to Council Member Atkins office on Monday, along with some of the rally signs made by kids.
Carmel Mountain Branch – Instant support for the local branch has sprang up, as 200 fliers were handed out before noon. Support for this branch has been slow to gel – so this is definitely a good sign. Here’s an update from Anna:
CARMEL MOUNTAIN RANCH This branch ended up delivering 500 flyers, 200 more than any other location! Library workers dipped into their own pockets to run off what was needed! This location was unique in that the action there was directed by off duty library staff from all over the city. We formed a broad coalition in this organizing effort, but what you haven’t heard about is the incredible participation of library workers who are committed to libraries and are aware that 38 of their co-workers are going to lose their jobs whether branches are closed or hours are reduced. Yes, we have a spirit of solidarity with each other. We don’t want to lose our jobs, and we don’t want you to lose the people who have provided story time to your kids, helped you find materials, and answered your questions.
This from an off duty library staff member who works at a different location and spent her whole day at Carmel Mountain distributing flyers:
“It was very gratifying to see how receptive people were and how passionate they were! So many THANKED us for doing this. In close to 95% of the cases, it was like pushing on an open door to get them to sign (petitions) …one older gentleman marched up to me, I started to talk, he held up his hand and said Don’t bother telling me, that is why I am here!” He was the past president of the Rancho Bernardo Friends of the library…a businessman in the mall across the street asked for a bunch of flyers and swore every customer that weekend would get one. A young guy took some to hand out in his apartment complex. And the library staff inside working that day were absolutely besides themselves at that support.” I know of over 50 off duty library workers who came out to all 7 locations in support of their colleagues and community, to do what we do best- inform the public we serve.
University City residents gathered in front of our second home, U.C. Library on Governor Drive. Shouts of “Save our library” filled the air from 9:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. All ages were represented at this incredible outpouring of support for our library. People driving by honked their horns, and even the police gave us a thumbs up. Throughout the day we probably had about 100 people help out, and we got over 600 signatures on our petitions in five hours.
KUSI, CHANNEL 7, and Union Tribune reporter Helen Gao interviewed lots of folks carrying signs up and down in front of the library.
Our message was clear, thanks to San Diego Foundation flyers: No branch closures, no staff cuts, and no reduction in hours at U.C. or ANY of our sister libraries. We’re all in this together. If even one library closes, every library loses.
University City Community Association, Curie and Spreckels Elementary School, Standley Middle School, and U.C.High School parents and kids, Friends of Rose Canyon, U.C. Connection, book clubs, individuals fed up with a feeling of disconnect between communities and their government, EDUCATE!, a fundraising arm that raises big bucks for local schools, and Standley Park Recreation Council ALL came together to make some American noise. Are you listening City Council?
Clairemont Branch – Strong support here, but no report in as yet.
GO HERE FOR VOICE OF SAN DIEGO’S ANALYSIS OF THE COUNCIL VOTES – Looks good for libraries