Fullerton mayor Bruce Whitaker held the monthly “Talk Around Town” meeting to discuss the temporary closure of the Hunt Branch Library on Tuesday, September 24th. The mayor and citizens expressed their concerns for the future of the ailing structure. The library, where the event was held, is an architectural
gem according to Whitaker.
The main concern about the temporary closure was that it could possibly lead to the library closing its doors permanently.
The Hunt Branch Library already has competition with the Fullerton Public Library, which is located on Commonwealth Avenue. Whitaker spoke about how that library is located in a visible area whereas the Hunt Branch Library is secluded from any main roads.
One suggestion that was made from the citizens in attendance was for the Hunt Branch Library to be moved to a different location, preferably in downtown Fullerton. Other citizens were against the notion as Whitaker pointed out that libraries are meant to be private and stress-free.
The struggle to reopen the library is not an easy one. Every year the budget has be cut lower and lower. Whitaker pointed out that since the library first opened, the budget has gone down by 28 percent.
The director of the Fullerton Public Library system, Maureen Gebelein, said that financial issues for libraries was nothing new, but she noticed crucial deprivations for the libraries since 2009.
This is where Whitaker made a suggestion. He stated that the City Council should consider investing in the installment of electronic billboards along the side of the freeway. He said this would help give Fullerton extra revenue, some of which could then be used toward the library.
Whitaker also said the library is not up to today’s standards of what people expect in a library. In order for the library to reopen and make a profit, it needs to be upgraded to meet the standards of the 21st century. The structure is out-of-date and many people are switching to e-readers and computers as a form of reading, communication and information.
By the end of the meeting, a solid solution was not found for the library. However, Whitaker stated that he would do everything in his power as mayor to find money in the budget to reopen the library.
Resident Martha Brown expressed her displeasure of the library being closed and nothing being accomplished at the meeting.
“it would be a shame to lose this library,” Brown said. “My children grew up coming to this library. It has significant memories for me and my family.”