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Construction taking place at the new Main Library on Tuesday. Photos by Angela Yim.

City officials were joined by dozens of guests in downtown Long Beach Tuesday morning to celebrate the start of structural steel construction on the city’s new Main Library, part of the upcoming Long Beach Civic Center Development Project.

Located on the northern end of Lincoln Park, the new Main Library is under construction through a public-private partnership with Plenary-Edgemoor Civic Partners (PECP), a specially created consortium of developers, investors, designers and builders to develop the $520 million Long Beach Civic Center.

“Anytime you can celebrate the opening of a library is a great day for the community and the city,” Mayor Robert Garcia said. “There’s probably nothing more exciting than being able to open-up a center for education and learning and for families, in the heart of your downtown and the heart of your community—this is a special day for Long Beach to celebrate.”

The mayor expressed how the newly built facility will not only house books but serve a greater purpose, for the city and the community.

“I think that it’s important for us to remember that libraries are not just a place for us to go check out a book, libraries are literally centers of education, for people to research, where families get together to spend time together, for seniors to come and learn new skills and go on new adventures,” Garcia said. “It’s also a place for low-income families to have access to services, advice and support in our community – these places serve such an important part of what our city is all about and I’m very excited about this one.”

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The state-of-the-art library will feature a plethora of amenities within the 92,500-square-foot building, including community spaces, collaborative workrooms, an expanded Studio makerspace, separate library areas for teens and adults and plenty of technology, officials stated. It is expected to be completed by June 2019.

The current library was built in 1976 and on average sees more than 1,150 patrons a day.

Second District Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce brought her five-year-old daughter to witness the event this morning to see what her mother, along with a large number of other people, has been able to accomplish.

“As somebody who has been in a library multiple times, it’s a place where we don’t just learn, we don’t just check out books or do research, it’s a place where I fell in love with learning—it’s a place where my daughter is falling in love with learning,” Pearce said. “It’s like a candy store, when you walk in and they have all the books displayed in the right way. We already have a great library, but to be able to step it up and say this is going to be the library of the 21st century—we’ve seen what we’ve been able to do with the Michelle Obama Library—they’re centers that bring communities alive.”

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Rotary Club of Long Beach President Steve Keesal, whilst celebrating their 100th year in Long Beach, donated $250,000 to the library project.

“Our club has long been associated with literacy and the primary focus of charitable giving and charitable actions is the Reading by 9 program, which gives about $400,000 of books a year,” Keesal said. “We decided we wanted something that had literacy connection, as we planned the new civic center was coming about. Although we were afraid we’d missed the boat but as the head of our legacy project met with the library foundation, we thought we’d send the project off with a bang with the largest gift our club has ever been involved with.”

Elected officials and donors were asked to sign the first steel pillar in celebration of today’s event, which will be the first pillar to be used in the foundation of the new library.

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The library building will include a number of sustainable features that contributes to its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold rating, including a solar roof that will generate all of the library’s power as well as some of the power for the new city hall and nearby buildings.

The Long Beach City Council approved Plenary-Edgemoor Civic Partners to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the new civic center for the next 40 years. The project includes a new city hall, Port of Long Beach headquarters, the Main Library and a revitalized Lincoln Park.

For more information about Long Beach Public Library services and events, click here.