Billie Jean King to speak at opening for new main library

Long Beach tennis legend Billie Jean King will speak at the grand opening for the new main library named in her honor on Saturday.

The grand opening celebration, on Broadway between Pacific and Cedar avenues, starts at 9:30 a.m. and the speakers will begin around 10:15 a.m. It comes on the heels of the opening of the new Civic Center in July.

The nearly 100,000-square-foot new library will include a Family Learning Center, the Center for Adaptive Technology, a Veterans Resource Center, study rooms, meeting rooms, a special collections area, and an extensive children’s area with a storytelling space and an art studio, in addition to space for 300,000 books.

Billie Jean King speaking with supporters of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a campaign event in Des Moines, Iowa, in 2016. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

Billie Jean King speaking with supporters of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a campaign event in Des Moines, Iowa, in 2016. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

“The Billie Jean King Main Library is state-of-the-art, and we are thrilled to name this remarkable new space for Billie Jean King, a Long Beach legend and an activist committed to equity and fairness,” said Mayor Robert Garcia.

The library will also run programs for financial planning, citizenship, job training and literacy.

Born and raised in Long Beach, King began playing tennis on the city’s public courts in fifth grade. She won the Wimbledon women’s doubles title at 17 years old and went on to win dozens of titles. She famously won a match, dubbed “The Battle of the Sexes,” against Bobby Riggs as she campaigned for equal prize money in the sport.

In addition to her activism in gender and racial equality and gay rights, King’s written nine books and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.

Councilmember Jeannine Pearce initially proposed to name the library after King and the City Council voted unanimously in its favor in July.

“Long Beach provided me with amazing support throughout my youth, career and life and I have always felt incredibly grateful,” King said in a statement.

The celebration will also feature local leaders, Long Beach Unified School District students, breakfast food trucks, a ribbon-cutting ceremony and activities. Spanish, Khmer, Tagalog and ASL interpretation will also be available during the program and the library will open to the public for the first time immediately following the ceremony.

“For more than 100 years, the Long Beach Public Library has offered free and equal access to information, and the new Billie Jean King Main Library will be our most innovative space yet,” said Glenda Williams, Director of Library Services.

Road closures and parking: 

Broadway will be closed from Cedar Avenue to Pacific Avenue starting at 6 a.m. and reopen to traffic at 2 p.m. Free parking is available at the Broadway Parking Garage on 332 West Broadway on a first-come basis. Public transit or carpool is encouraged.

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