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?
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.
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.
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.”