President's Message

Dear Friends,

We were honored to have City Librarian Fontayne Holmes, Assistant City Librarian Pat Kiefer, Director of Branch Library Services Cecilia Riddle, and West Valley Area Manger Christina Hanson attend our January 9th Board meeting. The Friends Board truly appreciated these executive administrators’ taking time out of their busy schedules to address our members’ concerns regarding capital improvements, maintenance, and the Platt collection. (See Friends News for details.)

Improvements and Acquisitions

Continuing the Friends mission to improve Platt Library, the Board recently appropriated $13,000 for new stack-end legends throughout our branch—similar to the signage incorporated in LAPL's newly renovated branches. This will make it much easier for patrons to find the books they want. In addition, we allocated another $11,500 for materials and events: $6,500 for Adult books, $1,300 for YA books, $3,600 for Children's books and programs, and $100 for new shields for magazines. Thanks to your generosity and hard work, FOPL has now given our library over $370,000 since April of 1995.

More Worthwhile Programs

Program Chair Phil Binderman brought us an upbeat and thought-provoking evening with YA Teacher and Novelist Alan Sitomer for our March General Meeting. We all gained insights into motivating teen literacy within the system. Thanks Phil! Thanks Alan! (Watch for a full rundown in the next issue.)

And coming up…

At our May 17 General Meeting, you will be privy to a unique presentation. Phil has scheduled Hee-Jin Choi, a popular local crafts artist & arts education expert, to demonstrate Scrapbooking techniques and associated projects. This will be a great evening for everyone interested in creating beautiful books and gifts.

Sharing Platt Friends Expertise

This past February, Membership Chair Millie Berger and I accepted the Friends of theCalabasas Library's invitation to attend their Board meeting. They asked for suggestions on how to increase their membership since we have the experience and have been successful in this endeavor. We were honored that their Board requested our advice and that we could be of assistance.

Saving Platt's Bookstore

As you probably know, we've just weathered a couple of very turbulent months. On January 25, Platt Branch and Friends were informed that, effective immediately, the Department of Building and Safety had ordered all non-electric equipment items removed from the area the Friends have used to sort newly donated books for the past 10 years.

This wasn't an unreasonable demand. New equipment has been added, and it had become increasingly difficult to work within the confines of such a small space.

Initially, the Board hoped that alternative space could be found in the library. However, accommodations that work for some branches simply aren't adequate for stocking a successful bookstore as well as mounting periodic book sales. (As it is, nearby branches have referred book donors to Platt because they have to restrict donations.) Off-site alternatives suggested by LAPL Administration aren't feasible due to the large volume of books Friends volunteers would have to transport almost daily. The one viable possibility, a room at Platt that has never been used effectively, presented policy problems because it's designated as a “public space”: an area that must be open to the general public during library hours.

After several consultations with Director of Branches Cecilia Riddle, Friends of Platt Board representatives attended the February 2nd meeting of the Board of Library Commissioners. Our Bookstore Manager, Shel Schuster, presented our dilemma and requested that this room's designation be waived to facilitate FOPL's major fundraising project. City Librarian Fontayne Holmes verified FOPL's immediate cooperation with Building & Safety's citation, acknowledged that our financial support and community outreach were indeed noteworthy, and said she'd evaluate the room's use. But she also noted that, system-wide, unused public space is in very high demand. Our representatives also met with Gretchen Martin from Councilman Dennis Zine's office that same day to solicit ideas for alternate options. She was sympathetic to our needs and indicated that she would contact City Administrators to request a speedy decision.

With no place to sort books, our Board regretfully voted to close the Bookstore. During this interim period, we continued to search for some other way to maintain the full scope of our used book project. None was found, and on March 1, the Friends received word from Fontayne Holmes that the “photocopy room” (for lack of a formal appellation) had been deemed the best location for a West Valley literacy center currently under consideration and could not be turned into a closed sorting area.

Final answer: To maintain FOPL's commitment to Platt Library and its community, we had to compromise.

Since the Friends Bookstore now brings in nearly twice as much revenue as the one-day sales and is more convenient for Platt patrons, the Board voted to continue Bookstore operations and cancel the super sales. Through the prodigious and much appreciated efforts of Ed and Millie Berger, Warren Bromund, and Shel Schuster, some 7000 books were redistributed, the storage shed was converted, and donations were sorted and shelved. Bookstore Volunteer Coordinators Elaine Corman and Harriet Strauss had a full sales staff waiting. Within a week, the Bookstore was up and running normally. And although the shed isn't ideal for sorting, plans to make it bearable before summer arrives have already been set in motion.

Truly, this is the best compromise we could actually implement at the moment. If, in the future, a better permanent sorting area or adequate on-site storage space becomes available, we will be able to re-instate the one-day book sales.

Thank you for your patience and support during this trying time. You, our members, are important to us. Your donations, volunteerism, and contributions will continue to make Platt Library an outstanding leader among LAPL's various branches.

Frona DeCovnick, President

The Friends of the Platt Library Newsletter is produced and maintained by Hearn/Perrell Art Associates. Editor: Therese Hearn
Artwork, photos and information are copyrighted by their respective Authors, the Friends of the Platt Library, and/or Hearn/Perrell Art Associates and may not be reprinted without permission.
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