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Library fails to secure funding

Tim Willert

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.

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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

recipients.

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“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.

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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,

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she added.

“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1964, is considered out of date compared to the new Buena Vista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

next round.

“I think we learned a lot from how other libraries presented their

cases,” she said.


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