Responding to community pressure, the Los Angeles Board of Library Commissioners on Tuesday voted to put the entrance to a planned $1.3-million library in Atwater on Glendale Boulevard, the community's main thoroughfare, rather than on a side street.
The board was considering an alternate plan for the library, which will be at Glendale Boulevard and Revere Avenue, because of concerns for the safety of patrons who would have to walk to the entrance from a rear parking lot. A Revere Avenue entrance would have been about 60 feet closer to the parking lot than one on Glendale Boulevard.
But the Friends of the Atwater Library, which first protested the possible change in plans at a library board meeting in January, has insisted that a Glendale Boulevard entrance would actually be safer because of its higher visibility.
Busy Location Favored
Underscoring the need to place the library entrance in a well-traveled location, Barbara Lass, coordinator of the Friends of the Atwater Library, said, "Activity is usually what keeps crime down."
The Atwater library, the smallest of the 62 branches in the city's system, is now in rented quarters at 3229 Glendale Blvd. Most of its patrons, the Friends group maintained, arrive by foot, bicycle or bus and would not use the parking lot.
The parking lot will have space for only 12 cars, the group also argued, half of which would probably be taken by library staff members who would be able to exit from the rear of the library directly to the parking lot.
The 10 members of the Friends group who attended Tuesday's meeting, held in the Granada Hills Branch Library, bolstered their arguments with letters of support from Glendale Boulevard businessmen and community leaders. Hugh Stevenson, a deputy for Councilman Joel Wachs, whose 2nd District includes Atwater, was also on hand to express the councilman's support for a library entrance on Glendale Boulevard.
Library Commissioner Frank W. Terry said, "My concern is that many of the incidents we have had at libraries take place in the parking lots." Those incidents, Terry said, included muggings and robberies of staff members and library patrons.
After the vote, Lass said, "It's what we had hoped for. We're pleased. Now the $64,000 question is, when will it be built?"
October Ground Breaking
Ground breaking is not expected to take place until October, said Don Buck, business manager for the Los Angeles Public Library. Final plans must still be drawn up and approved by the city architect and the library board, Buck said, and the contract on the project must go out to bid. Construction will take about a year, Buck said.
The new building is expected to be three times the size of the current library, one of two branches in a rented building. The two small rooms at the front of the one-story building, housing the library's collection of 17,000 books, lacks public restrooms, water fountains and a community room.
The new library is designed to accommodate those features as well as a children's library and a reading room.