Rendering of the upcoming North Branch Library. Image courtesy of the City of Long Beach.
Councilmember Rex Richardson will ask his city council colleagues on Tuesday, December 22, to consider naming North Long Beach’s new library after First Lady Michelle Obama, Richardson’s office announced Tuesday.
Slated to open this summer, the proposed “Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library” in North Long Beach will be the largest neighborhood branch in the city at 25,000 square feet. The facility will serve as a state-of-the-art resource, to provide educational opportunities, an expanded children’s library, a storytime theater space and community center with spaces for large and small gatherings.
The demolition of the historic Atlantic Theater marked the beginning of the library’s construction, while the official groundbreaking took place on Saturday, October 25 in 2014. The new North Library promises to be a consciously designed and high-tech space, while energy efficiency and water conservation tactics have been implemented in order to achieve LEED Silver Certification.
"Our state-of-the-art library will be a source of pride and a major focal point of our Uptown Renaissance,” said Richardson in a statement. “But, we miss the mark if we don't connect with and inspire our youth to reach higher towards their goals through literacy and enrichment.”
The Ninth District Council Office was initially approached by Jordan High School youth to consider naming the library after the First Lady and has since reached out to other youth-focused groups in North Long Beach, according to the release. Ten neighborhood association presidents and numerous community leaders, including former Ninth District Councilmember Steven Neal and Long Beach Unified School District Board Member Megan Kerr have voiced their support.
“I'm thrilled at the idea of naming the North Library after First Lady Michelle Obama, a product of public schools, who studied hard and earned degrees at Princeton and Harvard Law School,” said Richardson, as quoted in the announcement.
Richardson is also asking the Library Services Department and the Department of Parks, Recreation and Marine to provide further support for what would be a historic first for Long Beach.
“The First Lady is a figure who shares many similarities with the youth of North Long Beach and is a shining example of who they can become with hard work and a dedication to their education,” said Richardson in a statement. “But, the first step is to initiate a fair, consensus-building process with our youth, library patrons, and community in the weeks to come.”
The “Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library” would be only library in the city named after a person of color, according to the release. If Richardson’s request is met with approval, an invitation will be extended to the First Lady to be a part of the library’s opening.