Area’s libraries each have specialties

first_imgBut county officials say plans are in the works for a new, 10,000-square-foot library to be built on the site of the Sorensen facility. The minimum size for a public library should be 10,000 square feet, a recommendation made by state Librarian Susan Hildreth. But many local facilities fall well short of that. “To really have an investment – to get some kind of bang for your buck – most library systems look at 10,000 as minimum before they build anything,” Hildreth said. “Then you can define service areas for adults and young people and have a community meeting room.” Still, talk to local librarians and they will offer up something good about their library – even the officials at Sorensen, which has about 30,000 materials, compared to the Whittier Library’s nearly 300,000. “People seem to like to come here,” said Eleanor Weismuller, Sorensen’s librarian. “It’s a friendly atmosphere and the staff is very approachable. We get to know them pretty well.” Some are large and have lots of space with lots of books, magazines and places for special programs. Others are not so big. One is just plain tiny. A survey of local library services shows sharp disparities between the 12 libraries in the Whittier area. The 12 range from the large Whittier libraries and Los Angeles County libraries in Montebello and Norwalk to the tiny, county-owned Sorensen Library. Few are new. Most were built during the late 1950s or 1960s. The newest is the Los Nietos Library, built in 1979. The oldest facility is Sorensen Library, a 1,058-square-foot structure built in 1956. Larger libraries have much more material, including some specialized items, and many more programs. “We have great programs and great staff,” said Paymaneh Maghsoudi, Whittier’s librarian. “We have a summer reading program, where we get between 3,000 to 4,000 children to sign up. We’ve also expanded it” to high school students, she added. Whittier also is in its fourth year of Whittier Reads program, in which the entire community reads the same book. It also has a state-of-the-art homework center, which has live online sessions available for tutoring. Whittier has the largest library facility in the area – 36,596 square feet – as well as more books than any other Whittier-area library. It has 298,851 books as well as 5,454 CDs, 2,602 audio books, 377 magazine subscriptions and 32 public computer stations. Whittier’s East Whittier branch – although much smaller than the Central branch – still is the sixth-largest in the area at 9,396 square feet. It has 80,804 books. The Montebello and Norwalk regional libraries are just a bit smaller than the Whittier Central branch, but both still are over 30,000 square feet and have more than 200,000 books. Both also have about three times as many audio books as Whittier’s libraries. Librarians at the two libraries also point to the special programs they offer. “We have the Asian Pacific Resource Center which has a special collection of Asian books in English,” said Lisa Castaneda, Montebello’s librarian. It also has books in Armenian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Spanish, Castaneda said. Norwalk, which has homework and literacy centers, also is a depository for federal and state documents and has a large collection of social science books, said Joseph Zagami, its librarian. It also has a special reference service which can handle questions too lengthy for the normal reference desk, Zagami said. Montebello and Norwalk also serve as regional libraries for the county’s Central and South districts, respectively. Other smaller county libraries in this area include Chet Holifield in Montebello, La Mirada, Los Nietos, Rivera and Pico Rivera, Sorensen and South Whittier libraries. “The regional library has the strongest collection and can be a support element for the other libraries in its group and cluster,” said Nancy Mahr, spokeswoman for the county library system. Santa Fe Springs is the fourth-largest library in the area at 16,000 square feet, with a collection of about 90,000 books. It is the only library where food is available, at its Cafe Libro. La Mirada Library, at 15,704 square feet, is the next largest library in the area. It has about 135,000 books and a local history collection. All of the rest of the libraries are less than 7,700 square feet and have less than 80,000 books – some with significantly less. They all – including tiny Sorensen – have some public-access computers. [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3022 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more