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Residents Want Temporary Library

City Council votes unanimously to allocate up to $25,000 to transport certain residents to main library in Redondo Beach when the new Manhattan Beach Library is under construction. Some residents want a temporary library within the city, not just a bookmo

With the upcoming closure of the for up to two years, City Council unanimously approved an additional $25,000 to provide transportation services to the Redondo Beach Main Library on Tuesday night.

As approved, the city's current Dial-A-Ride service will now include a drop-off service for MB residents who are disabled or over the age of 55, providing them with taxi vouchers for return trips from the Redondo Beach Main Library.

Construction for the new library, which will require demolition of the existing facility, is estimated to begin early in 2013. A vocal group of residents have not been happy with what the county intends to provide while the new library is being built; namely, a bookmobile with limited hours of operation and some popular children's programs in a yet-to-be-determined location.

According to the staff report, the funds that are being allocated come from excess property tax dollars, from Manhattan Beach residents, designated for library services. “We can’t use (these funds) for any other purpose,” the city's Finance Director Bruce Moe said.

Even with Council's approval of the new plan to add transportation, some audience members expressed their disappointment at the lack of a temporary library facility while the new one is under construction.

“The fact that there are alternate sites, perhaps the intensity of searching for one area in the city which could give us a library to which the residents could go had not been as emphatic an effort as it could have been,” Manhattan Beach resident Esther Besbris said. Besbris has been an advocate of a temporary facility for many months, bringing her comments to several public meetings.

“Maybe we should put off the date [to begin the library project] so we can have something that is a little more seamless for the people,” former Manhattan Beach resident Bill Victor said before city council’s approval of the $25,000 maximum for the additional transportation arrangement for certain residents.

While Parks and Recreation Director Richard Gill said a temporary library was an option, city staff did not recommend it, calling it "cost prohibitive." Gill said upgrading rooms in either the MB Creative Arts Center or former Manhattan Beach Middle School would cost from between $150,000 to $500,000 with an additional $100,000 to $300,000 in staffing costs.

“You can’t just put up shelves and throw up some books and call that a temporary library,” Gill said. “It would still have to conform to all of the standards and city codes.”

Gill said another factor is that the money for a temporary facility would have to come from either the city’s general fund or the new library’s construction budget, which is not the case with the cost of the approved transportation services.

According to the staff report, children’s services, including the story time program, will still be offered, although the exact location has yet to be determined. Online services will be available: residents 55 and older will have them in the Joslyn Center OASIS room; other residents will be able to access a computer workstation in city hall.  

A bookmobile situated near city hall, possibly in the parking lot, will serve as a temporary library, operating 20 hours a week. It will carry a small selection of popular books, newspapers and other reading materials, said Los Angeles County Library Director Margaret Todd.

Todd said people will be able to reserve, pick up or check out books and complete business transactions via the bookmobile.

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