Residents Turn Out to Save OB Library – Rallies Held at All 7 Threatened Libraries

by on November 22, 2008 · 17 comments

in Civil Rights, Economy, Education, Ocean Beach, Organizing, San Diego


November 22, Citizens rally to save the Ocean Beach Library

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.

Frank Gormlie and Kevin Faulconer, Ocean Beach Library, November 22.

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.]

University Heights

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 smallest library supporter, baby Sasha with her family.

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 Community Branch – Here is a report from Sandy Lippe:

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 UNION-TRIBUNE REPORT FROM SATURDAY’S RALLIESnever mind the headline of ‘bookworms’

GO HERE FOR VOICE OF SAN DIEGO’S ANALYSIS OF THE COUNCIL VOTES – Looks good for libraries

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar annagrace November 22, 2008 at 6:43 pm

UNIVERSITY COMMUNITY LIBRARY This message is from a staff member who used his day off to hand out flyers at the University Community branch library: “I enjoyed being on the lines of volunteers meeting and greeting residents and alerting them to the proposed budget cuts that could close their local library. My volunteer friend Margaret and I filled about six pages of signatures on our petitions…Margaret proudly told me she was 71 years old, and the threatened closure of her local library prompted her for the first time in her life to become involved in a social protest…at the end of our assignment, she was beaming with satisfaction for having taken a position and having gotten other local residents involved in a discussion about the value of their local library.”

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avatar Frank Gormlie November 22, 2008 at 8:46 pm

See report from Sandy Lippe on the University Community branch library event above – we posted it in that community’s section of the reports.

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avatar Shelia Padgett November 22, 2008 at 9:05 pm

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.

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avatar OB Joe November 22, 2008 at 9:23 pm

Great job OB ! Thank you everyone for getting it together to show the City what we think about our library. And thanks OB Rag for providing the reports from the other libraries. I think the message is getting through. I missed today’s rally, but so, even Mr. Faulconer came. wow!
Hey, just a comment, after reading the reports from the other libraries, something really stands out about OB …. uh, where are the OB businesses? All the reports from the other communities talk about how their businesses came through, donated water, food, supplies. What have the Ocean Beach businesses donated for the efforts to keep the library open? I read through all your reports, and the OB Town Council is mentioned. But no mention of our wonderful Mainstream, I mean Mainstreet Association. Why is that? Are they so busy with the Holiday Parade with Mayor Sanders that they can’t muster their troops to help save the library?
Hey Apple Tree – where are you? Hey Peoples’ – where are you? Hey Rite Aide, all you antique malls, liquor stores, restaurants and bars – where the hell are you? Just a thought.

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avatar Molly November 22, 2008 at 9:45 pm

Joe – as usual a little acerbic. I understand Peoples shut down for an hour last Saturday for the first protest to let their workers and customers attend. Also it was announced that the OB Dog Wash had donated balloons to the Friends.

I think the important point to focus on, in a positive way, instead of Joe’s negativity, and I’m friends with Joe, is that OBcians have pushed the politicians – this is seen in the changes said of Faulconer’s change. Last week it was said by his staff at the first rally that he was going to work hard as he could. Now today he said he definitely would not vote to close the OB library.
I can understand too why people are now saying no reduction in staff hours or operation hours at the branches.

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avatar Lyle Davidson. November 22, 2008 at 10:04 pm

Hi – My wife (Evelyn) and I waved signs and handed out flyers at the rally on Park Blvd Saturday afternoon. Anna Daniels thought you might be interested in some pictures from our event so here are half a dozen of them. (As near as I could tell, we got the best positive reactions from Honda drivers).

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avatar annagrace November 23, 2008 at 9:55 am

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.

Reply

avatar Joan Raphael November 23, 2008 at 10:04 am

The assumption was that people in CM didn’t care much about their library. Well, read on to see how wrong that idea is!

We had a core group of about 6 people, most of whom stayed from 9:30-2:30 to help. An enthusiastic family tacked up a great sign on the wall of the library, probably well over a quarter the length of the library.

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. Many signed up family members saying they would agree. Many people asked “Can I sign, I live in Poway.” I said yes, at that point I just wanted signatures and no one ever said it had to be registered citizens of SD. A businessman in the mall across the street asked for a bunch of flyers and swore every customer that weekend would get one. Starbucks across the street allowed two signs to be posted on their bulletin board, to show both sides of the flier. A younger guy took some to hand out in his apartment complex. We gathered over 200 signatures for a petition to keep the library open in 5 hours. Several people signing said they had spoken to Councilman Maienschein and he has committed to voting to keep the libraries open!
Carmel Mountain people LOVE LOVE LOVE their library and library staff and want it open!

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avatar Sandy November 23, 2008 at 10:48 am

Glad you got the info. When I press “send,” I never know where things go. Ah, the limited life of an English major. You can use the pictures. I only took a couple. We had lots taken, including many by U/T and many interviews by U/T, but they didn’t show up in today’s article in U/T. (I’m not complaining if Helen Gao, the reporter is reading this.) :+)

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avatar obTony November 23, 2008 at 10:48 am

Molly…thanks for the word of the day.

But what is really bitter or acrid about the situation is that Faulconer doesn’t have any other support at council right now and this budget will still likely get approved tomorrow. So…Faulconer knows this and gets to proudly announce how he is going to fight this even though he knows the position of the rest of the council. That’s not cynicism…that is reality.

It is good that the community has had some spark over this issue but it is a shame that it took something like this just to raise awareness. It would be nice if ob could sustain this interest on a more broad nature.

I go to Town council and sometimes Planning Board meetings and there is usually never anyone there and they are talking about issues all the time that ob should be concerned about.

So…both Joe and Molly are right….but just on either sides of the real issue here…which is how to keep ob aware of what is going on with elected officials…

Sanders is not our friend….neither is Faulconer…Planning board is full of developer friendly cronies…Town council is a also Pro Sanders…Mainstreet voted to scrap the artwork in the pier parking lot….

So….people….you have to get out there and make sure your “elected” officials are being held accountable…not just on “big” issues like the library…but ALL the time.

Faulconer is not a dummy…he is down here on tv making sure he gets votes…it is an election year for him and when a 1000 people sign a petition…he knows he had better act on it.

keep it weird OB

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avatar Frank Gormlie November 23, 2008 at 10:51 am

OB Tony – appreciate your angst, but see voiceofsandiego’s analysis of the City Council’s pending vote on the libraries – Faulconer is not alone. There is hope. There is a link to this article above, at the end of the post.

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avatar Patty Jones November 23, 2008 at 11:12 am

I am really in awe of the turn out and to the reader responses, folks sending photos and updates to us is wonderful!

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avatar OB Joe November 23, 2008 at 11:26 am

Hey, these reports and photos coming in are just awesome.
There are acouple of points I don’t want to drop, despite what my friend Molly says….
#1 – WHERE IS THE SUPPORT FOR THE LIBRARY FROM OCEAN BEACH BUSINESSES? I don’t see it. They should be ashamed when one compares what other community businesses are doing for THEIR library efforts.

#2 – this is something OB Tony mentioned: WE CANNOT ALLOW MAYOR SANDERS TO RIDE IN OUR HOLIDAY PARADE – we cannot allow him to assume everything is just fine and dandy all the while he wants to close our precious library! no siree! If he is in the parade I will personally approach him and have him dismount from his white horse .

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avatar Sparkleball Lady November 23, 2008 at 12:46 pm

I am outraged by any library closures or reduction in hours. But you guys in OB really have it the worst. First of all, your building is simply precious. How many old, treasured buildings are left in this bulldozer-crazed city? Second, a shut-down city building implies to all who see it that the community either doesn’t care or is dying. Soon the graffitti comes, then then homeless camping out. And your library sits in the heart of OB, right there for everyone to see. It’s not tucked off a side street. Thank goodness, for all of you leading the fight for these important community centers that signify hope and well-being to all– not just those who use them. And hallelujah for the rabble-rousing spirit OBcians keep alive in a city that loves to sleep.

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avatar Steve Downs November 23, 2008 at 4:47 pm

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.

Reply

avatar RAK November 23, 2008 at 8:16 pm

For folks looking for some background on the library cuts proposal (esp. long term issues and other sources of funding) be sure to check out Patty’s Nov. 17th post of excerpts from the city’s IBA report [ http://obrag.org/?p=1904 ]. A proposal to make the mayor’s cuts by reduced hours rather than closures is *not* a “compromise”. Be aware that “reduced hours” means 34 FTE (which, because many positions are part-time, may mean 50 or more people). NO MORE LIBRARY CUTS!

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avatar Buffy the Bookworm November 23, 2008 at 10:45 pm

I was one of the people who helped organize the UH rally.

There were many “meek bookworms” who frequent or work at the library who came out to support the rally to keep libraries open.

I came up with a picket sign featuring a bookworm mascot and when reporter Helen Gao of the UT saw it she told me she liked it. She adopted it for the headline of her article.

It was awesome to see so many bookworms (avid readers and lovers of books) come out to support our libraries.

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