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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

City Council Approves Improvements for Remodeled Library

• Additions Include Librarian for a Young Adult Section and Extended Hours on Sundays

BY BILL KOENEKER

The Malibu City Council unanimously agreed this week to purchase equipment for the remodeled Malibu Library, which is slated to open in April, and agreed upon extended hours, a teen librarian and a newly offered speakers series.
For outgoing Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich, this may be the crowning glory of her eight years in office. She was the city official who spearheaded the efforts that led to uncovering unspent funds and a bigger budget for the library that paid for the current remodeling project and paid for improvements.
Ulich, along with former Councilmember Sharon Barovsky, obtained a greater share of funding for Malibu.
The effort, for a short time, even included a municipal threat to leave the county library system until a memo of understanding was drafted that acknowledged the county would use all of the property taxes earmarked for Malibu Library to go to it. For years, that had not been the case.
Council members praised Conley Ulich for her actions. “I want to thank Pam. She started this before we got to the council,” said Councilmember Lou La Monte.
“I echo what Lou said. We have been able to have the library and direct what happens there,” said Councilmember John Sibert.
The first item on the agenda, agreed upon without public or council comment, was to authorize the city manager to execute a purchase order for equipment for the library improvement project totaling $250,000.
According to a staff report, nearly 90 percent of the construction is finished and completion is expected at the end of the month.
After the building is finished, workers will begin the installation of furniture, fixtures and equipment, which will take approximately three months, according to a staff memo to the council. The library is scheduled to reopen on April 22, 2012.
“All of the equipment that is being purchased as part of the improvement project is either being purchased through the county of Los Angeles contracts that provide for prenegotiated reduced prices,” wrote Assistant City Manager Reva Feldman, in a staff report.
Feldman indicated the equipment purchases include items such as computers, monitors, printers, media equipment, book carts, trash cans, small appliances and other necessary office equipment for the Malibu Library.
Conley Ulich, during a power point presentation, explained how all of the expenses for the library and equipment is reimbursable.
The county sets aside the difference between the city's property tax revenue and the library's expenses into a designated fund. At of the end of the last fiscal year, the set-aside fund totaled about $7.3 million, according to the outgoing council member.
“It is expected that approximately $1 million will be added to the fund annually. Sufficient funding is available in the set-aside fund for the full project cost [of $6,289,647],” she added.
Conley Ulich explained the additional monies give the city the ability to increase hours and other services.
In stating why she thought the Malibu Library needed additional hours of operation, Conley Ulich explained that the new library at Topanga is open 48 hours, Rolling Heights is open 69 hours per week while Malibu is open just 37 hours.
She told her colleagues, the hope was to add 13 hours and give Malibu a total of 50 hours per week.
Council members agreed to increase the hours on Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. and other hours on a weekday.
The council unanimously approved the increased service hours that can be implemented with the reopening of the library in April.
The increase in hours will cost about $82,000 a year, which can be funded from the set-aside funds, according to Conley Ulich.
Conley Ulich also talked about enhancing the existing collection with materials specific to Malibu. She suggested it could be something such as an ocean and surf collection.
Some Malibu residents have expressed the hope that the library could focus on showcasing the works—and lives—of some of the numerous literary figures who have made Malibu their home, including Frederick Hastings Rindge, Malibu’s first resident author; librarian Lawrence Clark Powell; novelist John Fante; “Tarzan” and “John Carter of Mars” creator Edgar Rice Burroughs; best seller Michael Creighton; screen writer Philip Dunne; mystery novelist Ross Thomas; and children’s book author and actress Julie Andrews, to name a few. The estimated cost of the collection enhancement is approximately $25,000, which can also be funded from the set-aside funds.
Mayor Laura Rosenthal said she and Conley Ulich disagreed on the need for a teen librarian. “Do we need a teen librarian or should we see what they want?” Rosenthal asked.
Conley Ulich said it should be done now. “Where’s the fire?” asked the mayor.
Conley Ulich said 39 other county libraries employ one. She said the cost would be $130,000 annually.
Establishing a speaker series program to provide a minimum of six guest speakers a year could be done by having the Harry Barovsky Memorial Youth Commission and the Parks and Recreation Commission provide input in identifying speakers for the program at a cost of $75,000 per year using the set-aside monies, the staff report added.
The council did not discuss it, but they approved establishing a deferred maintenance reserve of $100,000 a year. The deferred maintenance reserve can be paid for from the set-aside funds during the term of the agreement with the county.
The added services were discussed with the county and among members of the ad hoc library committee, according to the staff report.
The Malibu Library was built in 1968. The current remodeling project is the first upgrade to be performed at the facility.

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