It’s back to the drawing board for the city of Burbank after the
state this week denied a request for $20 million in grant money to
help build a new Central Library.
The California Public Library Construction and Renovation Board,
after considering 66 applications, awarded grants to 16 projects
totaling $108.2 million Tuesday. Burbank was not among the
“The bottom line is, our need just wasn’t as great as other
libraries,” Library Services Director Sharon Cohen said Wednesday.
“On our worst day, we’re still better off than a lot of libraries.
Some cities have no libraries at all.”
Four out of five applicants were turned down, said Linda Springer,
deputy library bond act manager for the state, adding that grant
requests totaled $457 million.
“The need far outstrips the money we have available,” she said.
In February, Burbank voters passed Measure L, which authorized $14
million in general obligation bonds to build a new library and
renovate the Northwest Branch Library. The bonds will be issued only
if the city receives a matching grant from the state.
The state office of library construction, which evaluates and
administers the grants, will accept applications for a third and
final cycle until Jan. 16, and Cohen said the city plans to reapply.
It could be August before the city learns if it will receive funding,
“We knew going in that it was going to be very competitive,” Cohen
said. “We’re committed to going the distance and getting the grant in
the third round.”
The existing Central Library at 110 N. Glenoaks Blvd., built in
1964, is considered out of date compared to the new Buena Vista
Library. City officials say the Central Library has insufficient
parking and inadequate space, among other deficiencies.
“It was built before the technology boom, and we don’t have the
capabilities to expand our public access computers,” Cohen said.
Cohen was in Sacramento for Tuesday’s announcement, accompanied by
administrative analyst Jody Hiddy, Measure L Committee Chairman Tom
Bruehl, and Burbank Unified School District Supt. Gregory Bowman.
“We’re going to work with the city to see what we can do to
strengthen the application,” Bowman said. “We’re going to see what we
can do to be at the top of the list.”
Despite the latest setback, Cohen likes the city’s chances in the
“I think we learned a lot from how other libraries presented their
cases,” she said.