With rally and petitions, Ocean Beach mobilizes to save its libraries

by on April 30, 2011 · 9 comments

in Civil Rights, Economy, Ocean Beach, Organizing, Popular

Dan Morales and Rick Callejon join others in waving and carrying signs in support of the OB Library. Many passing by honked in solidarity. (All photos by Frank Gormlie.)

A good sized crowd showed up today – Sat. April 30th – in front of the Ocean Beach branch library, in what originally had been billed as a “meeting” to organize a rally in support of the library.  It was a little after 12 noon, another perfect day in paradise.

Or was it?

Signature gathering at the front door.

The meeting, attended by over 50 people, was not really a meeting, at all. It was more like a “happening” – it was about signature gathering on petitions – over 150 collected, sign waving at passing traffic about the need to keep the OB branch open; it was about horn honking in support, it was about some chants about love for books and libraries. And it was about getting the message out that Ocean Beach stands by its library, refuses to allow it to be closed, and stand ups in opposition to the draconian budget cuts to the library department proposed by Mayor Sanders.

The event had been organized by the Friends of the OB Library and the OB Rag, and supported by Councilmember Kevin Faulconer’s office.   A number of TV station and print reporters and cameras appeared on hand.

There was a brief rally of sorts at one point where a number of people spoke.  With Frank Gormlie MC’ing, George Murphy, the president of the Friends, spoke of the need to keep the doors open, urged everyone to sign the petition, and said that he would be delivering them to Mr. Faulconer and the City Council this next Thursday, May 5th. Murphy then thanked the crowd for showing up.

George Murphy, current president, Suzi More, past president, and Judy Collier of the Friends of the OB Library.

Suzi More, the past president, spoke next and remembered what had to happen two – three years ago, when the same organizations had to come together and rally to save the OB library.  Back then it was successful, now we have to do it again.

Councilmember Faulconer then spoke and continued his public commitment in supporting this branch and the entire library system. He said his office is working closely with OB groups, and assured the crowd that he would fight to maintain the current hours of the libraries.  This was met with a round of robust applause.

Anna Daniels, a former City librarian, community activist from City Heights, and OB Rag staffer was last. She saidthat we cannot allow any closures of the libraries, that we can’t be fooled by promises of keeping the branches open just for a few hours, and told the crowd that San Diego cannot let staffing and hours cuts. “Look at that book drop over there,” she said, pointing to the metal slot on the side of the Library.  “That’ll be gone if the cuts are made.” She described how the OB branch might be turned into an “Express” branch with almost no services.

Councilmember Kevin Faulconer giving interview before rally.

The rally ended, Mr. Faulconer and the media departed but people hung on, waving signs, asking passersby for their signatures.

The perfect day in paradise had turned into the beginning of Ocean Beach’s energetic mobilization to save its branch library.  The Friends of the OB Library will continue to collect signatures at Farmers’ Market and in front of the branch. It gained a number of new members. And a Committee to Save the OB Library petition was also circulated, which when formed will support the Friends and organize another rally, if needed.

Someone said at the end, “we’ll have another one. We’ll be back.”

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Citizen Cane April 30, 2011 at 4:35 pm

The bigger challenge is keeping the library open in more difficult financial times. Yes, things are bad right now, but I think things get worse near the next presidential cycle. After the next financial meltdown, I don’t think we escape 2012 with simply another recession. I’m looking at a real depression. Many readers will disagree, but still I pose the question, “How can we keep libraries open during a depression?” Surely it can and should be done. Somehow we need the city to treat libraries as an essential service that needs long range and consistent budgets.


avatar annagrace April 30, 2011 at 4:49 pm

You are right Citizen Cane. The city needs to treat libraries as an essential service, because we citizens do. Year after year library supporters are the largest group advocating for any city service. We are essentially being disenfranchised if the city does not provide for libraries as a core city service.


avatar Debbie May 1, 2011 at 7:00 am

Where are all the school children, their moms and dads for this rally?

If these people don’t care the library is closing, neither will the mayor or rest of the city council. The Main Street Association, OB Town Council, OB CDC, OB Planning Board, Churches all should be rallying their people for this good cause.



avatar annagrace May 1, 2011 at 8:07 pm

Debbie- I talked to lots of parents and kids going in and out of the library. A number of them picked up a sign and stood next to the street chanting with us: 2-4-6-8 An open library sure is great! 3-5-7-9 Keep your budget cuts off of mine! I am optimistic about their commitment to their libraries. They were concerned and ready to act! And you are right, parents and kids across the whole city need to advocate to save our libraries. Those kids will be the real losers if the lights go off in the library.


avatar Joan May 1, 2011 at 9:02 am

Sorry I missed this. I hope I’ll be able to sign at the last minute on May 5.


avatar Joan May 1, 2011 at 9:03 am

Or let me know if there is another place to find this petition rather than printing out an whole piece of paper for my one signature.


avatar Frank Gormlie May 1, 2011 at 11:36 am

The Friends of the OB Library will have petitions during this up-coming Farmers’ Market on Newport. They’ll also be in front of the library at times.


avatar Patty Jones May 2, 2011 at 7:14 am

Here is a link to a petition you can print out, sign, have your neighbors sign and turn in. Details are on the petition.


avatar editordude May 2, 2011 at 7:20 am

We received this from George Murphy, head of Friends:
“As you know, we are collecting three more times; twice on Tuesday (12:30 and again at 4–each for two hours) and at the Farmers Market on Wednesday. And then a couple-three of us will take the ballots down to the City Council meeting on Thursday at 10:30 a.m. Join us if you can!


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