Library Essay Winner (copy)

Patricia Benoit, president of the Friends of the Library, presents a certificate to Elizabeth Marquez for last year's Summer Reading Essay Contest.

School’s out for summer, but there’s still plenty of reading to do at Long Beach Public Libraries, including the soon-to-open new main branch downtown.

There’s no official date set for the grand opening of the new Main Library on Broadway and Pacific Avenue, but it will be sometime this summer, according to Director of Library Services Glenda Williams.

When it does open, the 92,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility — located across what once was Lincoln Park from the old location — will be part of a $520 million complete rebuild of Civic Center, including City Hall and a headquarters for the Harbor Department (Port of Long Beach). Lincoln Park will be rebuilt to the south of the new library.

Williams said librarians now are coordinating the move of hundreds of thousands of library materials from the former building (closed since January) into the new main branch, which is being built by Clark Construction under direction of Plenary-Edgemoor Civic Partners, through a public-private partnership with the city.

Details for a grand opening celebration are still being worked out, but Williams said there would definitely be tours of the new library given when the day comes. And, she said librarians are anticipating lines of people who will want to sign up for library cards when they see the sparkling new building.

In the meantime, Williams emphasized that Summer Reading programs will continue as usual among the system’s 11 other neighborhood branches with this summer’s theme: Showtime at the Library.

“We have a special summer reading kickoff planned on June 15 at Bach (Neighborhood Library, 4055 N. Bellflower Blvd.),” Williams noted, which is being sponsored by the Friends of the Long Beach Public Library’s Helen Fuller Cultural Carrousel.

The Friends’ Carrousel also is coordinating its annual Summer Reading Essay Contest, asking youngsters to write a response to: “What book would you like to see turned into a show (movie or television), and why?” The contest will launch on June 15 and run through Aug. 4, with details at library branches.

Regular library branch activities, from computer classes to family movie afternoons to story time, will continue in the summer as they do year-round. Special activities in line with the Showtime at the Library summer theme will include magician shows at all branches, animal performances, a symphony petting zoo, puppet shows, teen karaoke, and a special magical performance by Michael Mezmer on July 9 at El Dorado Neighborhood Library (2900 N. Studebaker Rd.).

“We have a lot of things happening to keep the whole family engaged this summer,” Williams said, emphasizing that summertime is especially important since children’s reading levels can slip when school isn’t in session.

For Williams personally, who grew up reading regularly at Mark Twain Neighborhood Library (now located 1401 E. Anaheim St.), the bookshelves were a summer refuge.

“My mom would send me and my sister and three brothers out to play, and my brothers would go to the park and my sister and I would go to the library,” Williams said. “I loved to read.”

A full calendar of summer activities at the 11 neighborhood branches, and eventually the Main Library (once open), is available at LongBeach.gov/library.

Also, the Long Beach Public Library Foundation is campaigning this summer to raise money to support programs at the new Main Library, setting a goal to bring in $3 million. Anyone who donates $25 or more on the organization’s website now or within the first year of the library’s operation will be recognized as New Main Campaign Founding Donors. Visit LBPLFoundation.org for details.

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