This is code for, “The new librarian wants to get rid of more books and turn the Library into a dumbed-down community center”


A new broom sweeps clean.

The following is from last night’s Note and File dept., as presented on the council agenda. No action was taken.

Consider it a warning to the public. As a continuing saga which it definitely will be, we’re just presenting this first part right now. Comment will follow in the months to come.

Oh, and they’re going to want a new $$$$ facility soon, which Burbank does NOT need at its “Central” branch. Get ready for that one as well…


In 2016 and 2017, Burbank Public Library will conduct two planning processes, which are designed to support each other and result in a clear, community-based vision for the future of the Library Services Department. First, the library will develop a long-term plan, matching community needs and desires with trends and opportunities to map out a focused set of activities for the next 3 years. The information gathered in that process will inform the second activity, a design concepts study for options for a new or renovated Central Library building for Burbank. As the initial phase in this work, Library staff members are conducting information-gathering efforts in the fall of 2016.


Public libraries are undergoing a period of great change. From their spread across the country in the early 1900s until the mid-1990s, libraries had a clear mission: provide access to reading material, answer informational questions, and organize children’s programming. Over the last 20 years, the combined implications of technology and increasing competition for public funds have shifted how libraries function, such that today’s public libraries can be found offering everything from workforce development services to makerspaces to mental health assistance. Libraries and library staffs have struggled to keep up with change during a time in which missions have broadened to the point that anything and everything is a possibility, straining staff focus as well as resources.

As with other libraries throughout the region and the country, Burbank Public Library has been experiencing this phenomenon but has not confronted it head-on. The Library has not operated with a strategic plan, engaged the community in a conversation about its future, or brought staff together to assess priorities. Recent leadership changes, a necessary modernization, and the chance to reopen conversation about the future of the Burbank Central Library provide an opportunity to launch a planning process, which will bring both staff and the community toward an understanding of what the
modern library should be.

Notice how we were just told what the “conversation” is going to be.


The Library’s planning process draws on numerous sources of information to construct a well-rounded picture of existing practices, the community, the larger sector, opportunities and priorities. Elements include:

1) Analysis of current library services and statistics, including a comparison to similar libraries in the region
2) Community conversations – a series of facilitated discussions with local residents about what they see as possibilities and barriers to achieving their aspirations, not necessarily related to the Library
3) A survey requesting input from users and non-users about the future of library services in Burbank
4) Research into relevant trends in the library sector and beyond
5) A staff planning day, which will bring the entire staff together for the first time for a facilitated conversation about how to move the department forward
6) Research into financial opportunities beyond the General Fund for supporting both Library
services and future building expenses

While libraries, cities and departments regularly conduct planning processes, there are two key elements of Burbank Public Library’s process that will improve chances for the identified changes to take hold and move the Library into a position of greater impact for the community. First, staff members are involved in many aspects from the onset. Second, the community and its needs are at the core of every decision. This turning outward toward the community represents a major shift in the
culture of Burbank Public Library, and this shift is the most essential component of bringing a 21st century library to Burbank and ensuring that services are meeting community needs and representing good stewardship of taxpayer dollars.

Here it gets wacky:

At the same time, the Library needs to reintroduce itself to the community as an institution that prioritizes this outward viewpoint. The major method for achieving this, while also reinforcing the culture shift, is the community conversations. Using methodology designed by the Maryland-based Harwood Institute for Public Innovation and the American Library Association, Burbank Public Library staff will conduct approximately eight conversations this fall at locations throughout the City. While all conversations will be open to the public, most are also targeted at specific populations in an effort to ensure a diversity of voices and perspectives. Groups being targeted include populations that have a key impact on decisions about Library services, including parents, seniors, teens, businesspeople, non-English speakers and people living in poverty or experiencing homelessness. The community conversations are not an attempt to gather comprehensive or statistically significant information but rather to bring in a variety of perspectives and determine where there is common ground about
community priorities.

It’s a library. There. Asked and answered.


Here it gets creepy:

By leading these conversations, staff members are gaining a deeper understanding of the mindset needed to operate the Library going into the future. In addition, they will develop facilitation and public speaking skills that will help further the Library’s goal of continuing with an outward-facing perspective. The set of staff assisting in this activity represent all library job classes and locations, resulting in a group of ambassadors for the new culture that will help it take hold throughout the ranks of employees.

The conversations are set up as a facilitated series of questions that people will consider on their own, in small groups and in large groups. The conversations are not meant to be political or lead to any particular solution. Over the course of the evening, each group will identify and prioritize a set of 2-3 issues that need to be solved in order for the community to realize its aspirations, contributing ideas for solutions. While the Library is facilitating, the conversation will not be directed toward the Library at all but will maintain a focus on the overall community. Where it is relevant for the Library to play a role in resolving identified issues or concerns, that feedback – in combination with information gathered from other sources – will shape the Library’s key priorities for the next few years. Where it is important public knowledge but may not be relevant for the Library, it will be shared with other City departments and community partners.

Staff will report back to Council with a complete overview of this aspect of the planning process. The Library’s long-term planning document will be presented to Council in draft form for additional input in early 2017. Identified service priorities will inform the work of architects assisting in developing design concepts as part of the second phase of this project, approved by Council in the 2016-17 budget.


Burbank Public Library staff will participate in a series of activities in fall 2016 to gather information from the community and other sources in order to focus its services going into the future. As a major component of this project, staff will facilitate community conversations to gather input about needs and goals that, while not necessarily directly related to the Library, will inform priorities. This work will also help shift the culture of the Library to be more responsive.

Just to the subliterates. Those elitist booklovers who think that libraries are primarily about books and reading can go screw themselves. That’s so 20th century!

The fix is in.



Filed under Uncategorized

16 responses to “This is code for, “The new librarian wants to get rid of more books and turn the Library into a dumbed-down community center”

  1. Anonymous

    You’re right semi, they want to get those learning pods in there and to hell with the old books.

  2. semichorus

    Public libraries have been turning into real disaster spaces the last 20 years or so. They don’t know what they want to be now– but one thing’s for sure … they don’t want to be about books any more.

    I blame the new “21st Century!!” management philosophy, and the aggressive, MBA-style personality types that get hired into those top jobs now ( a lot of real librarians absolutely HATE their new bosses). And it’s not just Burbank, it’s everywhere. You should see how the UCLA research library has been destroyed by all of this dumbed-down subliteracy. The bottom floor’s a total wreck. And worse, that new “collaborative” crap they’ve put in as a replacement for books never gets used.

    And don’t get me started on the Oviatt at Northridge. What a great library that used to be. I’ve heard they do have a big Starbucks on the main floor now, where “Reference” used to be. So that’s good.

    It’s always the “reference” sections that get torn out, too, for all of these big 21st-century changes. How perfect.

    • Anonymous 3

      What the hell do YOU know about it?

      You never leave your apartment. Nolan brings you your hot pockets so that you have all sorts of time for this petulant little blog.

      • semichorus

        So what should I post this weekend? Some Bax or Delius?

        How about Schumann? I’m in the mood for Schumann this time of year.

        That’s how ignorant I am, I know. I know nothing about libraries.

  3. Anonymous

    While the Library is facilitating, the conversation will not be directed toward the Library at all but will maintain a focus on the overall community. Where it is relevant for the Library to play a role in resolving identified issues or concerns, that feedback – in combination with information gathered from other sources – will shape the Library’s key priorities for the next few years. Where it is important public knowledge but may not be relevant for the Library, it will be shared with other City departments and community partners.

    I thought this was about the library.

    • semichorus

      No, it’s about trying to “redefine” the “role of the library in the community” in order to justify building a big new mega-library facility on Glenoaks that they’ve already decided they want to build.

      And then to fill it full of soon-to-be obsolete crap. After getting rid of half the books they haven’t already gotten rid of.

      Let’s not let them. It’s a bad idea, it’s unnecessary, the old one’s got plenty of potential, and the “Central Library” is just a BRANCH library these days anyway.

      The main facility in Burbank is now at Buena Vista, and I can’t wait for them to start lying about this as well. It’s been treated this way since the day it opened.

  4. DixieFlyer

    As our so-called librarian searches for “answers”, she apparently has a problem remembering the words of the “Pledge of Allegiance to our Flag”.

    Where did they find her?

    • semichorus

      Just watching her in front of the council as I have, she comes off to me as a very aggressive — and quite smugly arrogant — hustler.

      That’s how these types get these jobs nowadays. Her song and dance about “the 21st-century library” is typical. They know how to sell that phony, glitzy bill-of-goods. The people that hire them are just as bad — or, naive and ridiculously uninformed and insensitive about the issues.

      They buy the glitz and destructive, MBA style bullshit.

      Her smug and condescending behavior towards Dr. Gordon about his mere questioning of something Library related a few weeks ago was really beyond belief. She works for him!

    • Anonymous 3

      Why do you hate women so much, Mike?

      • semichorus

        Questioning and criticizing this new head librarian does not make one a woman hater.

        That’s a really great deal for her (and others) if it does. It means they’re indemnified for everything.

        Is this the new angle now? Go after the library and its leadership and you’re a misogynist? What dishonest bullshit.

        We saw that a few years ago with the “Protectorates” btw. Criticize them for their inanity and dishonesty about obvious street protests on Hollywood Way and “Dr. Gordon!” and you’re suddenly a horrible, horrible “woman hater.”

        No wonder Trump is winning with all these angry people. They know that some things are nuts. And they are.

        This new Burbank librarian btw is also pretty awful. Sadly, they all are these days in those confused institutions, because that’s who’s getting hired. Total and 100 percent company boys– management hustlers all the way — and quite to the distress of the longtime veterans.

        • Anonymous 3

          Nah. Mikey is a misogynist because he hates all women, not just the librarian.

          Ask the female staff that are terrified of him, the way he spends his hollow days cruising around the city offices and berating the women.

          Mikey hates women, no denying it. I bet he’s never seen one naked without having to pay for the privilege.

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