COMMUNITY COMMENTARY:

I am a resident of Chevy Chase Canyon. I have lived here for seven years with my husband and two daughters, ages 7 and 14.

I was attracted to the canyon for its natural beauty, safety and sense of community. Having two children, it was important to live in a community that offered some services. The park in Emerald Isle and the Chevy Chase library factored strongly in our decision to move to Glendale from Los Angeles.

Last week, while making our twice-weekly visit to the Chevy Chase Branch Library, I asked the librarian if it was true that the library might be closing. His confirmation left me shocked and upset. My 7-year-old daughter’s response to the news was simple yet said it all: “That’s terrible.”

I spoke with senior administrative analyst Jay Wollenhaupt of the Glendale Library to voice my concerns. He explained that the recommendation is based on budget cuts and a study showing that the Chevy Chase library is underutilized relative to the other branches.

How can the city justify plans to open a new library (with no proven attendance record) in Adams Square (and plan to have it open six days a week) yet shut down another branch entirely? This proposed action seems wholly unfair and draconian. As it is, we have little to no public services up in the canyon. The failed attempt to open a large branch near In-N-Out Burger makes it all the more crucial to keep our local branch alive.

For as long as I’ve lived in the canyon, the library has always offered limited operating hours (two days a week, then three short days a week). Combined with its small size, this makes it almost impossible to attract the kind of traffic other libraries enjoy. It seems unfair that the Chevy Chase branch attendance is being compared with larger libraries that are open five to seven days a week. When the library expanded its hours to include Mondays, my family visited more often.

No mom-and-pop shop located off the beaten path and open two to three half days a week could ever achieve a customer base like that of a Target on Brand Boulevard.

This doesn’t mean the shop shouldn’t exist or doesn’t serve its community. In many ways, these shops provide the greatest service. That is how many of us feel about the Chevy Chase library.

Eliminating a library to meet a budget shortfall is a short-sighted solution to a short-term problem. As older residents retire and move out, younger families with children will move in. What will remain to serve and attract these families? We have to look at the long-term effects of this closure on the canyon and its ability to attract younger and newer families.

Please consider reducing this and other branches’ hours to meet the budget. Closure should not be an option. Once the library is gone, it is unlikely to return during better economic times.

Please, let’s get our priorities straight. Education and literacy are two of the most important things we can offer our children.

As much as we look to well-heeled projects like the Americana at Brand to add value and prestige to our city, it is strong schools, libraries and community services that really define a community’s worth, value and values. Please consider the true costs and long-term impact of this closure before making your decision.


 PAMELA TOM is a Glendale resident.

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