The Mayor of Long Beach has set off something of a fire storm (or at least a tempest in a teacup) by vowing to close the Main Library of the Long Beach Public Library, claiming that it is too old to operate and that the City cannot afford needed repairs - some of which, like the leaky roof , have existed since the building opened. He wants to concentrate on the branch libraries and keep them open for longer periods of time. The irony is that Main Library was built long after every one of the branches but two (Mark Twain and El Dorado) and the further irony is that Main Library and El Dorado opened in the same year - 1977.
Needless to say, such a closing will leave the mostly low-income neighborhoods that surround Main virtually without library service, while residents in more affluent areas will be getting better service than before. Surely, this fact could not have influenced His Honor's decision.
Friends of the Library and other pro-library organizations (meaning friendly to the Library Management) have launched a campaign to stop this clearly unjust and outrageous decision. Nevertheless, I would be more sympathetic to the campaign if the library bureaucrats had not helped to dig their own mass grave by implementing a hare-brained "marketing strategy" a couple of years ago that resulted in the illegal destruction of thousands of serious books in the library's collection and in an official library policy of buying only books published after 1985, with a heavy emphasis upon "best sellers" - in other words, junk written by Tom Clancy, Wayne Dyer and other "novelists" and pop psychology frauds. This fact makes it mighty hard to get up the energy needed to fight for a building that is more and more looking like a warehouse for volumes guaranteed to kill readers' brain cells. The real tragedy downtown is the closing of Acres of Books, where one could easily find classic novels, plays, and works on social problems, history, economics, philosophy and other serious subjects - even if they don't have pretty covers and do have a lot of words with more than one five letters. Plain covers, long words and the fact of being published before 1985 are kisses of death for a book at Main Library. The whole plan was part of a strategy by political right-wingers and pro-business types within the librarian "profession" to run libraries like corporations. In other words, treat the employees like manure and feed the masses garbage because it is cheaper and that is all they deserve or want anyway.
I don't think that Main Library should close. But I won't lose any sleep if it does.