Area Library To Remove Books, Librarians from Library

I rarely reproduce an article in its entirety, but as would say, the whole thing is a pullquote. I can’t come up to the challenge of annotating or responding. Instead, read:

Newport may close Balboa branch, open ‘electronic’ library
Instead, part of planned community center would be equipped with computer center, on-demand book orders.

NEWPORT BEACH — The Newport Beach Public Library is considering closing one of its four branches and outfitting a planned community center with everything that it offered — except the books.

At a meeting about the Balboa Peninsula’s Marina Park development Wednesday, city officials unveiled plans to close the Balboa Branch — which houses 35,000 items, including books, DVD and other materials — and to dedicate a portion of the Marina Park Community Center to an “electronic library.”

By eliminating books and librarians at the building, they hope to adapt to modern times and save money while providing residents services they’ll actually use. In the process, they would replace the library’s most iconic features with Internet connections.

“That caused me the most angst,” said City Manager Dave Kiff. “People identify [book] stacks with the library.”

But officials analyzed how its patrons use the branches and found that most come for a quiet place to study, to plug their laptops into work spaces and to use the Internet-connected computers. Few of them actually remove books from the shelves.

That’s especially the case at the Balboa branch, said Cynthia Cowell, library services director.

“They come specifically to use the computers,” she said. “We have a lot of electronic use of the library, and it’s getting bigger all the time.”

The new facility would have a 2,200-square-foot “Internet library” room with a central fireplace and a kiosk where patrons could order books to borrow using an online system. Some seats and tables would look out onto the bay.

“What we hope to accomplish,” Cowell said, “is to create a place where people want to come and be.”

If residents still want to get their book on the Peninsula, they could order it online from the other branches and pick it up at Marina Park. Instead of holding books behind a desk, the library would drop them off in individual lockers.

“A lot of people still want to touch a book, hold a book, smell it,” Cowell said. “The sensory experience is still very important to many of us.”

The new process would be similar to Netflix. Patrons could place orders from anywhere with an Internet connection: home, work, Marina Park, etc. The kiosk would also be equipped with video-calling software, similar to Skype. Patrons could speak face-to-(projected) face with a reference librarian who could help answer research questions and point them toward the right online resources.

Cowell said she anticipates some blow-back from people in the community, but downplayed the change in peoples’ library experience.

“It’s just the delivery method,” she said.

When Long Beach considered closing its downtown library in 2008 and opening a similar Internet library with pick-up capabilities, many in the community fought back. Some of them were from the Long Beach Public Library Foundation.

In Newport, the Friends of the Library may not have such a strong reaction.

Speaking for herself, Nancy Acone, a Friends board member and manager of The Friends Book Store, said, “You have to be open for change in the library, because you don’t want to be like the railroads and go out of business.”

Presumably, it would be cheaper to run the library without trained reference librarians, but Cowell said she hasn’t run the numbers yet. The City Council would have to decide what to do with the three full-time staff members at the Balboa Branch, she said, and whether closing it would eliminate additional work for other library staffers.

At older than 50 years, the Balboa branch and the adjoining fire station need to be rebuilt, city officials said. If this plan goes through, they would rebuild the station and possibly turn the library land into a park, Kiff said.

The Devil’s Own School Bus

School Bus of Fear

On a side street in a wealthy suburban neighborhood overlooking the water, we see: a schoolbus, unmarked, plugged in to someone’s power, clean and obviously customized, with spikes on the front hubcaps. Possibilities include:

  • Cool awesome extreme sports anti-drug mobile extreme awesomeness vehicle!
  • Purpose-built vehicle for school bus races.
  • Intentionally scary Freddy Krueger type schtick by horror movie aficionados/Coil fans/over-the-top leather guys/Turbonegro fans.
  • Bro mistake.

You make the call.

This Saturday at the Island Hotel here in Newport!

You know it’s a sad event when the only speaker who shouldn’t be in prison is Pat Sajak.

The Claremont Institute presents the 20th Anniversary Dinner in Honor of Sir Winston Churchill, in honor of Donald Rumsfeld, with honorary co-host Dick Cheney (by video from his Castle of Evil) and introductory remarks by William J. Bennett!

Two war criminals, a gambler Tartuffe blowhard bigot, and a game show host. I hope Pat goes off on all of them for being unclean and then pulls the string on a suicide bomb. “You called me here today to be the emcee for your dinner. You wanted a nice friendly puppet, someone crass, a real pro, a get along guy. WELL YOU GOT A MAN ON A MISSION, SUCKERS!” [blam] Okay, fantasy over.

Don’t go anywhere near Newport Center if you want to avoid the anal probe and/or worst traffic ever. I’m sure the presence of Rummy & Bill will result in a terrordome being lowered over the entire zip code. No need to protest. I could just show up within 3/4 of a mile in my not very clean car and wham it’s gitmo.

Tuesday’s Children

I met with Bob at Kean today so I could order a new automatic clutch for his Whizzer. (No, really!)

The patio was packed with moms and babies because the new expensive baby food store was having a grand opening Halloween event.

“Expensive baby food store” falls short of the mark. “Pomme Bébé” looks at first to be a high-end salon, art gallery, and Apple Store in one spot. Whiteness gleams tastefully. Sheer ivory surfaces, smock-clad employees, menu of the day in the style of an ice cream store. They sell organic and otherwise perfect food for infants.

So as Bob and I ordered bike parts on the Internet and bullshitted and played with his dog Mancha, this river of super-rich mothers flowed. They were all 20 and perfect forever, and their babies were all 6 months old and perfect forever. The baby carriages themselves were worth more than my car. They stretch across the sidewalk and have racks and racks of toys clacking above their passengers. More than a few were double wides with twin skulls bobbling in them.

Mancha slumped on our feet in a heavily adoring way and we skritched him. My iced tea was good.

Morning.

pigurines

I went to two doctors today, both for minor reasons. Both at Newport Center.

These doctors’ offices are full of very old, tremulously decrepit white men in cheerful retirement clothing. They’re in aloha shirts and khaki shorts and running shoes, slowly dying.

The parking lot has a very low clearance. This results in comedy with SUVs. One patient made it in driving a Suburban; another with slightly larger tires did not, providing a condensed symbol of the Californian relationship with cars and a satisfying crunchy noise.

The pharmaceutical rep in the waiting room was qualified as a fashion model: almost six foot, slender, leggy, cheekboned and coiffed. Thieves and murderers always send out the best courtesans.

I did not buy the pigurines in the pharmacy window.

The sea has not changed

Today a sailboat hit the rocks of the Newport Jetty and sank. If there was anyone on board they’re dead; no survivors found.

This comes a week after a couple were swept to their deaths off the same jetty.

Pleasure boating and jetty fishing aren’t North Sea fishing, but they’re deadly serious business.

Winds to 45 mph and a storm-surge sea? I’ll stay on land. All the way on land, in fact.

When I was a child, we were anchored in our little boat off Catalina Island in a cove, and we lost the dinghy off the back of the boat at night. We couldn’t be without that dinghy, so my father swam out into the black water with a flashlight in his teeth to get it. It was a long, long time before he came back. I think that was our family’s most frightening moment.

It’s good to live where I do.

Southern California this week is going to be a dangerous and painful furnace. Today it was 120° in Indio (desert town). The emergency services people have put out a dire bulletin advising people to be careful of the high temperatures and unusually high humidity, and not to leave old people, children, or animals in cars, and for chrissakes don’t die of the heat.

Meanwhile, the report ends with this:

ONSHORE FLOW AND A MARINE LAYER INFLUENCE WILL KEEP TEMPERATURES
FAIRLY MILD ON THE COASTAL PLAIN…GENERALLY IN THE 70S AND
80S…EXCEPT 60S ON THE BEACHES.

Thank you, Dad, for buying a house in Paradise 40 years ago.