A New Year Message
A message from Library Director Skye Patrick
“The very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future of man.” ― T.S. Eliot
At a time when our freedom to read and access information is challenged at unprecedented levels, libraries play a pivotal role in preserving the public’s fundamental right to access information, services, and resources that support their personal growth.
Throughout the past year, we made it our mission to break down barriers and support those who depend on us to stay informed, competitive, and connected. Although 2022 had its challenges, we are grateful for having the opportunity to help open the doors of possibility for countless individuals and families.
Renovating Our Spaces
While we continue to work toward getting our libraries back to where they were before the pandemic, we are proud to have reopened the recently renovated Temple City Library, Hawthorne Library, and San Dimas Library. Temple City Library underwent a multi-million-dollar refurbishment funded by Supervisor Kathryn Barger’s 5th District and the City of Temple City, which included an expanded children’s area, a new state-of-the-art meeting room, new computers and desks, a glass enclosed study room, an outdoor reading garden, and plenty more. Prior to reopening their doors, Hawthorne Library and San Dimas Library upgraded their HVAC and electrical systems, carpet, computers, and furniture thanks to funding from LA County’s CEO Facilities Reinvestment Program. If you haven’t had a chance to visit us in person in a while, I encourage you to stop by these libraries, or any of our 85 locations.
New Initiatives, Programs, and Services
In 2022, we developed a variety of in-person and digital offerings that enabled customers to access more of the resources and activities they depend on for their personal enrichment and well-being.
Looking at the very important issue of racial equity, we adopted an anti racist agenda that aligns with LA County’s Anti-Racism, Diversity & Inclusion Initiative and established a committee to help develop policies, procedures, and programs supporting equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging at our libraries; their insights will help inform future changes that can help us better serve LA County’s diverse population. Virtual programs developed as part of this effort include our Heart & Hand Book Talks, which feature engaging conversations with authors about topics concerning culture, race, identity, belonging, and inclusion, and Trailblazers in Conversation, which features politicians, authors, community leaders, and other trailblazers who are making a difference in our community. These programs garnered tremendous positive feedback, signaling the need for us to continue creating thought-provoking dialogue sessions in the new year and beyond.
In support of our customers’ lifelong learning, we launched Virtual Author Talks that feature book talks from best-selling authors across the nation and Silver STEAMers, a series of fun and educational Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math programs for older adults.
In May 2022, we launched our Tool Lending Library, which allows customers at our Compton, Lancaster, Norwalk, Rosemead, and San Fernando libraries to borrow hammers, power washers, electrical cords, wrenches, power tools, gardening tools, cookware, and so much more. Customers have checked out more than 900 tools to start or complete DIY repairs and projects.
We also unveiled 4 new eco-friendly Bookmobiles and service routes to make books and resources more accessible to our neighbors across the County. Our Bookmobile routes are serviced by the Antelope Valley West Bookmobile, Antelope Valley East Bookmobile, Gateway Bookmobile, and East Bookmobile, all of which underwent makeovers that will make them very hard to miss in 2023!
In partnership with the First Partner’s Office and the California State Library, we started offering California State Park Passes, which give library cardholders free vehicle day-use entry to more than 200 participating California state parks.
These new services and programs, along with our school readiness services, online learning resources, and virtual and in-person program events, have kept countless children, teens, and adults curious and inspired. You’ll continue to see more of this next year.
Planning for the Future
Like all things, the Library can always improve. As we develop our strategic plan for the next 5 years, we thought it would be imperative for us to gather feedback from our customers on the types of programs and services they need and want at our libraries.
In fall 2022, we held a series of Community Feedback Sessions for library customers across all 5 County supervisorial districts, and one for staff. The requests and recommendations we received have been tremendously helpful. We are using this feedback to inform our planning for operations, services, and programming.
While we collected a lot of valuable requests, we noticed a few notable themes emerged:
- Customers are interested in seeing more diversity in our collection of books and materials and specifically, more representation of other cultures, communities, and experiences.
- Career and professional development resources are in demand, and the more resources and events we can offer to job seekers, the better.
- Parents and caregivers of school-age children and teens are looking for support, either in the form of services, materials, or events, that provide homework help, tutoring, access to textbooks, and support for college preparation.
- There is a growing need to increase accessibility at our libraries for non-English speakers, which would require the use of more bilingual and translated signage and materials.
These are just a few of the recommendations we received, and we are evaluating sustainable approaches to them as we plan for the years ahead. I look forward to sharing more with you when we release our 5-year strategic plan in 2023.
While the past year was a very busy time for us, our work and dedication to you won’t stop in the new year. Please visit us in person or online and if you have the time, check out our staff recommended books for 2022. We look forward to opening more doors of possibility and change with you in 2023 and beyond.
From our hearts (and spines) to yours, we wish you a safe, prosperous, and happy new year.