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Community provides input on proposed new Central Library

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Burbank Public Library director Elizabeth Goldman, center, talks with locals about ideas for a proposed new library during a community meeting at the Central Library in Burbank on Thursday, Feb. 6.
(Raul Roa/Burbank Leader)

The Burbank community is being asked to brainstorm features and amenities they would like to see in an updated version of the city’s Central Library.

Burbank library officials are ramping up efforts once again to breathe life into the nearly 57-year-old facility after decades of inaction. Although library officials are seeking input, the city has yet to develop or approve such a project.

On Thursday, two community workshops were held at the facility, during which library staff asked attendees to provide their input on several topics, including the types of spaces and gathering areas inside and outside the library, what kind of technological services should be offered and the types of books that should be stocked on its shelves.

Garret Morberg-Nguyen, 10, of Burbank, said his vision for a new Central Library would include indoor and outdoor spaces where people, including those in his age range, could hang out and socialize.

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“It should be better than just the same library that we see that’s mostly just a space for books and computers,” Garret said. “It definitely should have a space where you can just relax and immerse yourself into a book or to do homework.”

Karen Morberg-Nguyen, Garret’s mother, said she would be happy to see the Central Library upgraded with better amenities, but she struggled with the idea of starting from scratch.

She said she loves the building’s classic exterior and she would be more inclined to support a project that updated the interior over flattening the site and constructing something new.

“It’s got a great design to it and maybe you could expand it so it has an outdoor area,” Karen Morberg-Nguyen said.

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Burbank resident Teresa Green said she was also on the fence about tearing down the Central Library and having it rebuilt, and she shared the same admiration for the building that Karen Morberg-Nguyen has.

However, Green noted, building a brand-new facility would allow the city to incorporate new features that they would otherwise be unable to at the current site, like additional parking or an outdoor space.

She said she’d be open to having a new Central Library being built and repurposing the current facility to another community-oriented use.

“I cringe at the thought of them tearing it down, but at the same time if they built the new one not too far from here, it would be nice, too,” Green said.

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The Central Library in Burbank on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020.
(Raul Roa/Burbank Leader)

The Central Library was built in November 1963 and was a then considered a major upgrade over the city’s original Main Library, which was a fraction of the size, according to the Burbank Library’s website.

However, the last time the Central Library saw some kind of update was in 1992, when the interior received a new coat of paint and new carpets, said Elizabeth Goldman, Burbank’s library director.

She added that talks about upgrading the Central Library date back as far as 1989, when the city created a facility’s master plan.

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The city was close to renovating the facility in 2003 when Burbank voters approved Measure L, a bond that authorized the use of $14 million if the city received matching grants from the state.

However, Burbank’s application for that funding was denied, and the ballot initiative fell by the wayside.

After hearing the ideas the attendees shared on Thursday, Goldman said she feels more confident about the likelihood of a project coming to fruition.

“I’m grateful that we have a community that will participate in a process like this to help us create something really great,” she said.

Those who did not participate in Thursday’s workshops can still provide the Burbank Library with their input.

Through the end of March, people can visit burbanklibrary.org to fill out an online survey on the matter.

Additionally, the Central Library, located at 110 N. Glenoaks Blvd., will have a kiosk where people can submit their suggestions and comments in person.

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