September is the target for opening the new Main Library downtown, and the search for a name is coming down to the wire with a deadline this Friday, June 21, for suggestions.
Second District City Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce launched the public naming process last week. She called for proposals to come to her council office on or before June 21 so she could prepare a motion to go on the July 2 City Council agenda.
"There’s a handful of great names," Pearce said Monday via email. "And one is definitely standing out."
She declined to name that name, however.
The Long Beach Library Foundation, which raises money for the entire library system, has been working on its New Main Campaign Founding Donors program, which has helped raise $2 million for programs, technology, and enhancements at the new library. Officials there said the foundation remains neutral on a name, but is supporting a public process.
In an email Monday, the foundation urges people to express their opinion, then points to the city's Policy and Procedures for the naming of city-owned land, buildings and facilities.
Those policies give nine guidelines for naming, including not naming buildings or property for living individuals unless "there are overriding considerations for deviating from this policy guideline." Policies also state people should have died at least a year before to have a building named for them, with the same exception. The council has routinely overrode those rules, including the name for the new branch library in north Long Beach, named the Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library.
One part of the new Civic Center, the council chambers where both the City Council and the Harbor Commission will meet, already has been named for former Mayor Bob Foster.
The Library Foundation stressed in the email that its function will remain the same no matter the name.
"Whether the name of the Main Library changes or not, the Library Foundation will continue to support educational opportunities for all who visit," the email says. "Our focus is to ensure this new library is well-resourced to serve the more than 1 million annual patrons who rely on our libraries to do homework assignments, apply for jobs, access the internet, learn to read, gather with their community, and more."
At least one name, The Beverly O'Neill Main Library, has won backing from two elected officials — City Auditor Laura Doud and Third District Councilwoman Suzie Price. They point out in a letter sent to Pearce and the Library Foundation that O'Neill went to school from kindergarten through a teaching degree at Long Beach schools, and had a 31-year career in education culminating in a term as president of Long Beach City College, all before becoming mayor.
"We believe this type of process is important as we look forward to participating with you and other City officials and the public," a letter from Doud and Price said. "With that process in mind, we would like to formally recommend that you consider naming the Main Library after Mayor Beverly O'Neill… Not only is such an honor befitting of Mayor O'Neill's service and accomplishments, but it would become an important reminder for current and future residents of Long Beach of this incredible woman's leadership and love for this city."
After the agenda item on July 2, a recommendation would go to the council's Housing and Neighborhoods Committee for a hearing. It then would return to the City Council for a final hearing.