Guest Submission: Library Facts

Letter to the Editor

In 2008, the City of Malibu entered into an agreement with LA County. Malibu negotiated the right to use the tax overages paid for library services to improve our local library. Prior to this, the City of Malibu property tax revenues were used at the sole discretion of LA County.

In 2011, residents in the City of Malibu contributed about $2 million or so per year, and our library cost about $800,000 per year to run. In the 2016-17 Fiscal Year, Malibu contributed $3,563,688 in property taxes for library services, the library cost $1,650,913 to run, and we now have surplus $ 1,912,775 from last year, according to a letter sent by LA County Librarian Skye Patrick on Nov. 27, 2017. This surplus has been building up over the past years.

The story of the metamorphosis of the library began many years ago for me when I routinely took my two young children to Malibu Library Storytime. I loved watching their eyes light up as they listened to incredible adventures. After story time, the children were invited to take up an instrument like a tambourine and march around the library reading room or do an arts and crafts activity. Those memories are everlasting, and many others in Malibu have shared similar stories with me of how the library has inspired them.

Around 2003, the incredible Malibu children’s librarian who led the “story time” for tots in our community was transferred to another library “over the hill.” She invited us to visit the story time in her new library. The differences were drastic. In this library, children had a safe area with separate family bathrooms, chairs made especially for small people, a plethora of computers stations for both kids and adults and an intimate gazebo area from which they could participate in story time. The entrance of the library contained a warm fireplace and nice and comfortable chairs that invited you to sit on them and read. This led to what Oprah would call an “ah-ha” moment.

Many people in our community began to meet and come together to see how we could provide our children and all patrons with a similar library experience. I ran for Malibu City Council in 2002, after being told if I ran I would lose, and one of my goals was to improve our library and increasing culture and arts in our community. By some miracle, I was elected to serve on the Malibu City Council and spent the next eight years working on improving our library.

In 2004-05, the City of Malibu and the County of Los Angeles Public Library (CoLAPL) conducted an extensive Community Library Needs Assessment (CLNA) to evaluate the library service needs of the service area and to assess the ability of the current library facility to deliver these services. The CLNA included a survey, community meetings, focus groups, site visits, benchmark studies, stakeholder interviews, including local school personnel and elected officials, collection evaluation, study of current usage and an analysis of the existing facility. The major findings indicated the need for a major remodel of the current facility, with special attention to the children’s area, a deep weeding of the collection, introduction of more self-service technology, increased attention paid to our collections and more publicity for current programs and services. Deficiencies included inefficient use of interior space, dated décor, acoustical issues, lack of technology, community room and a myriad of other issues relating to a building of this age. The CLNA included short-term and long-term recommendations with the major recommendation being a remodel of the 12,800 square-foot County-owned facility.

Fast forward to 2018, we now have funds to again re-evaluate where we are and where we can go to insure library services are top notch and adequately address Malibu’s needs and wants. I am confident that Malibu will be both cutting edge and creative in deciding our library destiny.

—Pamela Conley Ulich