Between the “Aspen Institute” and a survey of the Burbank public, let’s pick …  the Aspen Institute!

Several months ago staff ran a public survey to try and confirm the legitimacy of a longtime booster goal of selling the land under the Library’s Central Branch for condominiums and apartments and then building an expensive new facility right across the street. 

Even though they’re calling it a Tuesday night “study session” about our local Library’s goals and future, make no mistake. Despite the impending credulousness of most of our current city council members about what’s really going on here, this is actually instead about rationalizing another big new and unnecessary building project.

So, when one of the results of the survey are stated thus, and quite succinctly:

Access to collections, especially books, remains the most valued service…

Staff immediately runs to a famous technocratic think tank in order to alter the discussion:

A  2014  report,  “Rising  to  the  Challenge:  Re-Envisioning  Public  Libraries”  from  the  Colorado-based Aspen  Institute  identified  the  public  library’s  three  key  assets  as  “people,  place  and  platform.” [http://csreports.aspeninstitute.org/documents/AspenLibrariesReport.pdf]  This  points  to  the  continued relevance  of  the  library  as  a  public  building,  a  space for  gathering,  learning,  creating  and  participating. Where  library  spaces  were  once  dictated  by  physical  collections  and  demand  for  books  remains  high, collections  must  now  co-exist  with  space  for  technology  and  for  individual  study  and  large  gatherings, quiet  pursuits  and  group  work,  intellectual  thought  and creative projects. 


Unfortunately,  staff’s not telling the council here that this supposedly august “report” was considered by many librarians to be quite controversial in how it de-emphasized books in favor of high tech rec rooms and community “spaces.”

That’s because — contrary to local public opinion — staff wants to de-emphasize books and conventional learning materials in favor of high tech rec rooms and community spaces. And get their big new facility in as  justification. Rust never sleeps and neither does ambitious management.

This is an easy one. If the Burbank City Council wants to turn the current Central Branch into an overpriced Boys and Girls Club for adults then be our guest. Go ahead and keep dumbing down your local library. They’ve certainly given you a running start on it over the last 20 years, and so you might as well continue the effort. But, you’ll be ignoring the results of your own commissioned survey.

What people in Burbank want is more and better books above all — not more hanging around spaces for “learning” and intellectual pondering. So stick with building and preserving the Collection and restoring the present facility. You’ll be way out of style, but so much better friends to readers and scholars of all types.

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “Between the “Aspen Institute” and a survey of the Burbank public, let’s pick …  the Aspen Institute!

  1. Anonymous

    Libraries are the place for protests and free speech books just take up space and are all available on the internet anyway. You like books buy a device for that libraries are gathering spaces for the people.

  2. Burbank Teppista

    Happy Birthday, President Lincoln!

    Love this one …

    “Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren’t very new after all.” – Abraham Lincoln

  3. E. Caswell Perry

    Somethings are “strange” about our new librarian.
    She even has trouble with the “Pledge to Our Flag”.
    Take a walk through the Central Library, both 1st and 2nd floors.
    Maybe even ask about the basement.
    Stand out front and notice how Public Transportation serves it,
    seven days per week.
    Buena Vista has NO service –seven days per week.

  4. Toni

    So libraries are obsolete because nobody uses them anymore, except nasty old people who just refuse to come into the 21st century. Libraries are like a republican trump thing totally. What the library needs is lots of open gathering space with a booth that has Kindles that could be checked out for reading. These libraries waste lots of money to take care of the books and that’s just a republican thing to keep books that nobody wants to read anyway.

  5. Walt

    In my opinion the money spent on the libraries is wasted money. We should use that Downtown Library as a homeless shelter and spend the money on people instead of books.

  6. S.J.W.

    The library could be turned into a low income loft apartment building and help provide affordable housing.

  7. Moon Beam

    We won’t have property managers because Konstantine is a former property manager and he plans the 21st Century Rent Control to keep the property managers all under control. No contract or lease Konstantine plans to make rent affordable.

  8. Liz

    Correct me if I am wrong but we have two very large libraries do we not ? I see them as a wasted space. No one needs old books filled with old thinking. Be honest those old books are filled with racism and disregard for the environment. We really should stop saving that stuff and clean it all out.

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