Your New Library Plaza: A Safe Community Gathering Space

Your New Library Plaza: A Safe Community Gathering Space title=
Your New Library Plaza: A Safe Community Gathering Space
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Source: Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation

After years of advocacy at the City Council and partnership with the Santa Barbara Public Library, the Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation is thrilled to announce the recent commitment from the City to invest $1.115 million in Measure C Funds in a new outdoor Library Plaza space at the Central Library downtown.

The Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation has been encouraging the City to invest in a public-private partnership to rebuild the downtown Library Plaza, and now the City has committed to restoring this critical public space that is needed now more than ever.

In its current state Library Plaza is inaccessible, unsafe, and requires Library patrons to make their way through blight in order to reach the Library doors. The new Library Plaza will be free of barriers and accessible for strollers, wheelchairs, and patrons of all ages and abilities. It is a crucial Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) project for the City.

Library Plaza will open doors to expanded experiences in literacy, learning, and adventure. This space anchors our historic Cultural Arts District. In its new form, Library Plaza will be a space for our community to regather –when we can-- and for our Library to lead safe open-air programming. Even in crisis, while many libraries across the country remain shuttered, the Library has continually served the public’s evolving needs as an active and ever-changing community center, providing home deliveries and now curbside service. 

A safe outdoor space will expand these efforts and serve our most vulnerable community members. Imagine outdoor storytimes and literary programs for children, families, and caregivers; imagine poetry readings, art shows, and events like Juneteenth; imagine workforce development opportunities and job fairs.

The possibilities are endless and timely. Our community deserves a safe space for everyone to be seen, represented, and supported with educational opportunities. The Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation is moving forward to re-start our Library Plaza Campaign efforts, to build a space that is needed now more than ever for our Library and community. Now is the time for Santa Barbara to thrive with a revitalized public square. We have the opportunity to meet the changing needs of our community and create a legacy for generations to come.

The Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation supports the Santa Barbara Public Library by funding large-scale initiatives like the Children’s Library, SB Reads, SBPL Delivers, and the future Library Plaza. The Foundation opens doors by offering critical support not covered through public dollars. Visit our website sblibraryfoundation.org to learn more about how you can support the Santa Barbara Public Library. 

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a-1592944228 Jun 23, 2020 01:30 PM
Your New Library Plaza: A Safe Community Gathering Space

Another $1.115 million down the vagrant craphole. Just the tip of a colossal iceberg that has to be nearing $100 million over the past twenty years. What have we learned? Maybe the new plaza will teach us.

a-1592949003 Jun 23, 2020 02:50 PM
Your New Library Plaza: A Safe Community Gathering Space

I wonder if they have figured out how to keep people from colonizing a spot and staying all day. Obviously I’m referring to unhoused people, but the issue is not with where people live, but with anyone who takes a space and does not relinquish it all day, or gets territorial and intimidates other potential users. This plaza could be a really nice asset. We need places downtown where one can hang out or meet friends without having to buy coffee or whatever.

a-1592958422 Jun 23, 2020 05:27 PM
Your New Library Plaza: A Safe Community Gathering Space

I am afraid I agree with this. The library, inside, used to be a wonderful place to visit and to read. But they removed so many of the books that it is now mostly open space with people slouched asleep, so they then removed the chairs along the wall. They have a right to be there, of course; each of us has a right, no one's superceding another's. The result is that I and most that I know don't go to the library anymore (I'm speaking of pre-Covid) but prefer the Goleta Library. You can have a beautiful plaza but it will be open to all, as it should be and many of us will choose to not be there with others of our residents.

RHS Jun 24, 2020 01:30 PM
Your New Library Plaza: A Safe Community Gathering Space

3:05 PM: It is scary to think what process you would OK to "remove loiterers and vagrants" and how you would define these acts in any case. I doubt that you would include a mother and child sitting on the bench for some time. I doubt that you would include a "well dressed" elder who was reading a book there. etc. The point is that you would "know them when you see them" and that knowledge would be based on your biases and bigotry. "The rich land the poor alike have the right to sleep under the bridges of Paris." Therefore the rich and the poor alike have the right to sit outside the library though you would seemingly stop this for the poor. There is no crime of "loitering" per se and there is no crime of "vagrancy."

a-1593031715 Jun 24, 2020 01:48 PM
Your New Library Plaza: A Safe Community Gathering Space

When loiterers and vagrants take over public space, you won't find a mother and child sitting on a bench or a well-dressed elder reading a book there. The public space becomes exactly what it is today - a fermented hellhole.

a-1593032843 Jun 24, 2020 02:07 PM
Your New Library Plaza: A Safe Community Gathering Space

It's pretty simple. Set rules that prohibit the kind of undesirable behavior that ruin it for the families with kids and people that want a peaceful space to read. No sitting/lying on the ground, no sleeping on park benches, no loud music, no smoking, no drinking alcohol, no shopping carts or excessive baggage, no soliciting/begging of any kind. Have a security force enforce these rules without exceptions. If an "unhoused" person want's to sit and enjoy the area, they're more than welcome but they need to do it within the rules of the space.

lakeshow Jun 23, 2020 06:24 PM
Your New Library Plaza: A Safe Community Gathering Space

I actually wouldn't go to the library if you paid me. That money would be better off keeping vagrants away. Like santa cruz island. They dont want to work they dont want help! Fine enjoy yourself on the channel islands

tagdes Jun 24, 2020 09:08 AM
Your New Library Plaza: A Safe Community Gathering Space

The due date for returns has been pushed back to Aug. 1st so doubt it's opening 'til then. Also the SBPL Delivers has ended, although they are saying they're going with another idea. Not really a bother as it's safer and just as convenient with the current pick up and delivery every week twice a day. Course might be a problem when the rains come.

Lucky 777 Jun 23, 2020 11:39 PM
Your New Library Plaza: A Safe Community Gathering Space

It will be yet another gathering place for the Urban Outdoorsmen, unwelcoming to anyone else, an eyesore when stumbled across by tourists, leading up to the cavernous library, now with hardly any books, which is itself just a roosting zone for the flocks of farting sleeping bums. We have utterly lost control of this vital public resource by following the PC opinion that it belongs to them, too. Our tax dollars will be utterly wasted on this project.

angryjoe Jun 24, 2020 08:53 AM
Your New Library Plaza: A Safe Community Gathering Space

This new social gathering spot for the unhoused (aka bums) has been in the works for some time. How the f**king SB schitty council is shelling out another 1.15 mil for this is theft of taxpayer money. I know people have a right to hang out, but why in the middle of downtown? And to spend more $ for it?
Something has to be done by our “leaders” Why doesn’t Carmel, Solvang or Montecito have these congregations of bums?

AdamVant Jun 24, 2020 09:01 AM
Your New Library Plaza: A Safe Community Gathering Space

The word safe appears a half-dozen times. But the library and plaza are not safe. Saying it's safe doesn't make it safe. "Safe space" means a safe space for the bums and hobos. Normal tax-paying law-abiding citizens not so much.

Ahlia Jun 24, 2020 09:53 AM
Your New Library Plaza: A Safe Community Gathering Space

These negative posts obviously coming from people who haven't been to the library or looked at the numerous diverse programs ( that they still continue to have online ) for our community. This 'open' plan w/no benches to sleep on all day is the right idea for ALL people to be able to use. Many thanks to all the dedicated library staff who welcome us in, provide any help they can give and continue to give our children a priceless, positive experience and love of reading that lasts a lifetime :-)

RHS Jun 24, 2020 10:17 AM
Your New Library Plaza: A Safe Community Gathering Space

This is a remarkable statement from the Friends of the Library: "In its current state Library Plaza is inaccessible, unsafe, and requires Library patrons to make their way through blight in order to reach the Library doors." The current state is the result of years of SB Museum intrusion on that space. But this statement by enlightened folks seems to cater to the angry people complaining about the fact that homeless and poor people congregate in public places. They want them gone from the face of the earth apparently, although no one wants to pay to do this in a humane way. I use the library and value its resources and appreciate its tolerance of a sometimes difficult clientele. I have never been threatened by anyone in or near the library building. As John Prine told us: So if you're walking down the street sometime And spot some hollow ancient eyes Please don't just pass 'em by and stare As if you didn't care, say, "Hello in there, hello"

Minibeast Jun 24, 2020 04:28 PM
Your New Library Plaza: A Safe Community Gathering Space

Only about a month ago or so I wrote on Edhat about how once I took the time to say "Hello" to a long-time homeless/walker-all- about- town down-and-out personage. I had seen this person around for so many years, I felt it was time to acknowledge her with a smile and "Hello," This friendly "Hello" took place not 15' from the Main Library's front entrance. The recipient of this smiling "Hello" went into a complete rage and the only thing that saved me from getting a big smack in the face or other bodily injury was my then boyfriend.******* 6'2" and athletic, this boyfriend quickly jumped in to block the infuriated woman as she came at me. After that fine experience, I stopped saying "Hello" to any homeless and when they say "Hello" to me, I ignore them and pass on by without a word or smile. About a year ago, I was in the crosswalk right near Ralph's Fresh Fare on Carrillo, crossing with quite a few other people. Out of NOWHERE this homeless man coming towards us went ballistic and started screaming obscenities at us. Keep your "Hellos" to yourself and save yourself some grief.

RHS Jun 24, 2020 06:56 PM
Your New Library Plaza: A Safe Community Gathering Space

Minibeast: Sorry that you don't get the concept. Yes, there are tortured souls walking the streets. These people need care and sometimes that would require involuntary institutionalization. It was nice of you to say "hello" and I am sorry that you had a bad experience. But that doesn't mean that we discard these folks on a scrap heap, out of sight and out of mind. I will continue to try to relate to them.

EricL Jun 24, 2020 02:31 PM
Your New Library Plaza: A Safe Community Gathering Space

What's happened to the Library in recent years is a travesty. When I was a child it was an immaculate showpiece fully deserving to be across the street from the Courthouse. It had rich blue carpeting that went well with the warm wood shelving. The murals proclaimed the wealth and history of the written word. There were displays too - in one case a full model of an 18th century sailing ship in vivid detail. There were plush seats for casual visitors and numerous tables for students and scholars to study at. And books - thousands of books! The entire downstairs was devoted to periodicals - magazines, newspapers and journals. The art galleries were an inspiration. It was truly a temple of knowledge. Now? Now it's sterile open space. Books seem barely a consideration at all. There are few spots for scholars and the casual reader would be more comfortable standing in the book store across the street or lying on the Courthouse lawn. The downstairs is now just housing for bureaucrats - a crop that California seems to adore but produces less and less the more we invest in. Only the art galleries and the murals remain. All so we could accommodate a smelly subclass of humanity that doesn't care for us, Santa Barbara, the Library, and certainly not themselves.

passing-by Jun 24, 2020 02:44 PM
Your New Library Plaza: A Safe Community Gathering Space

Many of the comments about lack of books and the vast empty spaces at Central Library are valid. However, downstairs at the library is NOT " housing for bureaucrats ". The bottom floor is a terrific, modern childrens library, a public meeting room and a very cramped, busy work space work space where all the real work of shipping books to and from the entire Black Gold consortium takes place, along with, cataloging, interlibrary loans and tech services do all the unseen work that keeps the library functional.

EricL Jun 24, 2020 04:25 PM
Your New Library Plaza: A Safe Community Gathering Space

Indeed, I spoke in haste about the downstairs. It was all offices when I visited a few years ago. The library did install a children's library and meeting space afterwards and I forgot about that. But my original comment still stands. The library was perfectly functional when the space was used for periodicals. And it originally had a nice children's library just inside the main room's entrance. It's now a pale, sterile imitation of what it once was. I only wish I had pictures of it from the the glory days to prove my point. The difference is akin to a turning a Victorian reading room to a computer server room.

Luvaduck Jun 24, 2020 07:13 PM
Your New Library Plaza: A Safe Community Gathering Space

I've seen this work in other libraries: Limit the amount of time online a person can have. You show your library card at the desk, they assign you a computer or put you on the shortest list. When that terminal 'comes due', it shuts itself off. (You get a warning a few minutes before.) The next person goes to the computer, puts in his or her library card # and the machine starts back up. They get whatever the time allotment is, the machine tells them time is almost up and then time's up for you. You can sign back up if patrons aren't waiting. This keeps anyone from hogging the computers as if they were their personal machines.

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