Long Beach Public Library Foundation

Ryan Ballard, 2022 Board President

Ryan Ballard has served on the Long Beach Public Library Foundation Board since late 2017. He has contributed to the growth and success of our organization and led efforts for the Board of Directors to better reflect our diverse city as VP of Board Development in 2019. Ballard is also an Advisory Board member of the African American Firefighter Museum, a former Den Leader for Boy Scouts of America, and a former board member for the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. as its Western Region Assistant Vice President. He has served on the pastoral staff of First Church of God-Center of Hope in Inglewood, CA as the Youth Director. In addition to his work with nonprofit organizations, Ballard is a Resource Specialist Teacher for the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Ryan Ballard with his wife, Nicole, and their three sons at the grand opening of the Billie Jean King Main Library on September 21, 2019

A Letter from Our Board President

Dearest Library Supporters,

“We aren’t your grandmother’s library.” That’s a quote I heard around the time of the opening of the Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library in North Long Beach in 2016. It’s a nod to the fact that libraries are no longer a quiet place to simply check out and read books or a place to do homework. Libraries represent so much more, and the vast amounts of free resources available to patrons make them centers of information, community, learning, and growth. (See Palaces for the People: Library as Community Builder)

Gone are the days of scrolling through library card catalogs, or being “hushed” for breathing too loudly. Our libraries have become one-stop interactive hubs for providing services to their visitors. From free access to computers with internet access to our Family Learning Centers which provide one-on-one homework, job support, and computer use assistance, Long Beach’s public libraries are becoming institutions we can’t live without. I’ve often said that libraries are the great equalizers; housed within them are the keys to a brighter future with the resources that provide a direct pathway to success. For instance, the Library’s Career Online High School gives a second chance to adults seeking to obtain an accredited diploma.

To be fair, I have pondered the pros and cons of our library system and what public libraries, in general, provide to communities. I was stumped, as I could not think of anything negative to say about libraries. Although the word most associated with libraries is “books,” I continue to be amazed that this age-old institution has evolved into a safe space that addresses the unique and myriad needs of our community. I guess that’s the beauty of a library…it sparks creativity which has no bounds.

In keeping with the mission, the Long Beach Public Library Foundation provides support to enhance our libraries. At our core is the promotion of literacy and education for all members of the community. We do this good work thanks to your large and small contributions to support this worthy cause. We cannot do this alone. Please join us in our relentless pursuit to expand the reach of a library system that is improving the world one book and one service at a time.

Together we can; together we must,

Ryan Ballard
2022 Board President

Educational Resources Funded in 2021 Thanks to Your Donations

Thanks to your support, the Library Foundation made the following resources possible in 2021 to help many in Long Beach get their lives and livelihoods back on track. You can give those who depend on the Library even more reason to celebrate in 2022 with a tax-deductible donation to help us support library programs, technology, and resources. Every dollar makes a difference!

Family Learning Center Program

This program provides one-on-one homework help, job search support, and computer training. It continued in 2021 with the reopening of in-person centers and through its online component, Brainfuse, that all library cardholders can access 24/7. The Library Foundation has funded this program since its inception in 1999.

Dive into School Launches

This new program made possible by donations to the Library Foundation includes virtual and in-person workshops designed to teach age-appropriate language, literacy, math, and social-emotional skills that children should acquire before entering kindergarten. Workshops are available in both English and Spanish.

Celebrating Our Heritage

The Library has a long history of promoting inclusivity and diversity by highlighting the many cultures represented in Long Beach. This year, the Library Foundation was proud to fund educational events to celebrate Black History Month and Latino Heritage Month with support from F&M Bank, and to start our Fund for Asian American & Pacific Islander Voices.

Tech To-Go

In April, the Library launched its new Tech To-Go Chromebook and pre-paid wifi hotspot lending program to help local families bridge the digital divide. One in four Long Beach households lacks a reliable internet connection. The Library Foundation is proud to be a part of the community benefit partnership with Verizon that launched this program. 

Makerspace Studio

The Library’s most innovative resources made a comeback this year. The Library Foundation-funded makerspace studios at the Billie Jean King Main Library and the Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library reopened this summer and resumed offering in-person instruction in 3D printing, graphic design, robotics, and more.

Early Literacy

Promoting literacy in Long Beach starts with raising the next generation of dedicated readers who are prepared to succeed in school and beyond. This year, the Library Foundation funded several virtual literacy programs for families including Dive into Reading, Circle of Stories, the Young Readers Club, and the Summer Reading Program.

We also partnered with Léeme un Libro (Read Me a Book) and, with funding from the Long Beach Community Foundation, made it possible for more than 1,200 new Spanish-language books and 2,700 craft packs to be delivered to migrant children sheltered at the Long Beach HHS (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) site this summer.

The Library Foundation Stands in Solidarity with the Asian and Pacific Islander Communities of Long Beach

The Long Beach Public Library Foundation stands in solidarity with the American Library Association (ALA), Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA), and the Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander communities of Long Beach in condemning anti-Asian hate crimes.  

As the ALA Executive Board recently stated, “Such bias and bigotry are not new, but they have found fertile terrain in a country beset by disinformation, discrimination, xenophobia, Sinophobia, and white supremacy.” We couldn’t agree more. That is why we remain firmly committed to promoting literacy and education in Long Beach. Education is a powerful tool in fighting these social ills.

We are now proud to launch our Fund for Asian American and Pacific Islander Voices and encourage you to donate any amount to support library materials that promote the voices, narratives, and histories of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. This fund will also support resources and programs that educate the public on the origins of white privilege, white supremacy, and other forms of institutional racism and human rights issues that plague our society. Support this fund at https://www.lbplfoundation.org/aapi. Whether you donate $5 or $500, your gift will support educational tools in the fight against racism and injustice.

The Library Foundation remains committed to fighting for greater equitable access to the Library by advocating for significant increases to the Library’s structural budget. The City should provide the Library with sustainable funding that would allow it to be open more hours and provide more resources in Khmer, Tagalog, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Spanish, and other languages spoken in Long Beach homes. If you agree, please contact your Councilperson and ask for greater structural funding for the Library. 

The Library Foundation will also continue our efforts to diversify our Board of Directors, so our leadership adequately reflects Long Beach’s diverse community. In the past three years, we have transformed the makeup of our Board to include more people of color. We have seen how inviting a diverse set of voices—those from various racial, cultural, geographic, age, and economic backgrounds—has strengthened our organization and boosted our community impact and exposure, allowing us to promote literacy at every economic level.

Libraries play an instrumental role in educating the public, and they are often the only place left in society where the public can access truly free educational resources. They are often called the great equalizer. That is why it is important to strengthen this institution.

Learn about all the Long Beach Public Library has to offer at https://www.longbeach.gov/library.

Thank you, stay safe, and keep learning.
Long Beach Public Library Foundation Board of Directors and Staff

Voter Guide for Library Supporters

The Long Beach Public Library Foundation and the Friends of the Long Beach Public Library, two nonprofit organizations that raise funds and advocate for the city’s 12 public libraries, have jointly created a Voter Guide for the November 3, 2020 General Election. The guide, available at lbplfoundation.org/voters, allows voters who recognize the critical role libraries play in Long Beach’s literacy and educational efforts to make informed decisions when voting for candidates running to represent City Council Districts 2, 6, and 8; Long Beach Board of Education District 2; and Long Beach City College Board of Trustees Area 4.

10 candidates participated in the Voter Guide by submitting a brief statement outlining their views about libraries in Long Beach and, if elected, their plans for the future of local libraries. 

The Long Beach Public Library Foundation and the Friends of the Long Beach Public Library are 501(c)(3) organizations and, as required by law, will not endorse or advocate for any candidate. The responses from the candidates appear exactly as they were received, without edits. This guide is an educational piece without commentary.  

These Candidates Participated

The Long Beach Public Library Foundation Unequivocally Affirms that Black Lives Matter

The City of Long Beach, and the world, have experienced an extraordinary uprising in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. The Long Beach Public Library Foundation Board of Directors and staff have taken this time to listen, learn, and analyze our own role in upholding systemic racism. As an organization that has long advocated for equity in education and literacy, we unequivocally affirm that Black lives, indeed, matter.

While we are an organization that relies heavily on the power of the written word, we know words are not enough. For too long, nonprofit organizations like ours have failed to take deliberate actions that significantly dismantle systemic racism. Our organization has worked for years to support educational programs and provide resources to all who visit the public libraries in Long Beach. Still, we understand Black people and people of color face crippling inequality in virtually every aspect of American society including housing, healthcare, and education.

Therefore, we have outlined a number of actions we will take to address this critical issue:

  • Like our colleagues at the Long Beach Public Library (LBPL), we believe knowledge is the strongest tool we have to fight racism and injustice. Therefore, we will direct financial and other resources to ensure our libraries include widely available books and materials that represent the voices, stories, and histories of people of color as well as resources to educate the public on the origins of racism, white privilege, white supremacy, mass incarceration, and other issues that have plagued our society. We are grateful for our collaboration with the African American Heritage Society of Long Beach and the Long Beach faith community to ensure these resources are widely available at all 12 libraries in the city, in the LBPL online catalog, and as part of LBPL’s African American Resource Collection.
  • We will continue to use our advocacy efforts to fight for equitable access to educational resources and programs in Long Beach. This will include ensuring Library services are as available and accessible as possible to all residents of Long Beach, including families who cannot access preschool, those disadvantaged by the digital divide, disabled patrons, LGBTQ patrons, young people who seek educational resources and a safe place to socialize, adults who would like to earn 21st century job skills and seek résumé assistance, those experiencing homelessness, and more.
  • We commit to more consistently raising the voices of people of color. This will include raising funds for library programming that focuses on important topics such as cultural appropriation, racism, implicit bias, diversity, community healing, and more.
  • We will also continue our efforts to diversify our board of directors, so our leadership adequately reflects Long Beach’s diverse community. In the past three years, we have transformed the makeup of our board to include more people of color.  We know how important it is to actively engage all members of our community and ensure more people of color have a seat at the table and hold positions of power within our organization and elsewhere. We have seen how inviting a diverse set of voices—those from various racial, cultural, geographic, age, and economic backgrounds—has strengthened our organization and boosted our community impact and exposure, allowing us to promote literacy at every economic level.

If you would like to learn more about these resources and support our efforts, please visit lbplfoundation.org/aarc.

This is just a start. We know the actions we take today are important but also just the beginning of an effort to truly dismantling the centuries of systemic racism in our society. We will continue to look inward, joining the California Library Association (CLA) in reflecting upon how we have unwittingly perpetuated institutional racism, taking responsibility for challenging racial inequity, and implementing positive change in our organization and the public libraries. Like the CLA, we understand libraries are not only places of learning, but also institutions of social change. 

Although the 12 Long Beach Public Libraries are temporarily closed in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, the Library’s extensive collection of free online resources, including eBooks, audiobooks, and other resources related to the ongoing fight for racial and economic justice are available at longbeach.gov/library/your-library-at-home.

Thank you, stay safe, and keep learning.

Long Beach Public Library Foundation Board of Directors and Staff

The Complicated Role of the Modern Public Library – Humanities: The Magazine of the National Endowment for the Humanities

In her recent article, “The Complicated Role of the Modern Library: Something for Everyone,” in the Fall 2019 issue of Humanities: The Magazine of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Jennifer Howard examines the many important functions of libraries in the communities they serve. Libraries serve as free, shared spaces when many truly public facilities are disappearing and provide a variety of programs that are vital to many families, students, job seekers, older individuals, and those with disabilities.

Read the full article on the National Endowment for the Humanities website. CLICK HERE.

All programs and resources at the Long Beach Public Library are completely free for use. The Long Beach Public Library Foundation is proud to support many programs for visitors of all ages and learning levels. Check out the full list of programs and resources supported by our foundation.

Library Foundation and Friends Celebrate Librarians

Earlier this month, the Library Foundation Board of Directors was honored to work with the Friends of the Long Beach Public Library to organize the annual Librarian Appreciation event. From creating innovative programs to helping thousands of daily visitors find the correct book or use the computer, our city’s librarians transform lives at the Library every day.

Susan Redfield, former Library Foundation Board President, once again opened her home for the celebration. Volunteers from both organizations decorated and organized a delicious potluck.

Thank you to everyone who made this day special!

Learning and Teaching at the Library – Sanghak Kan’s Story

Sanghak Kan sharing his story at the 16th Annual Grape Expectations gala.

Many of our Library Foundation donors and the Library’s volunteers provide support because a public library made a difference in their lives and they want to help others who depend on library programs. Sanghak Kan and his family are prime examples of those who have had their lives transformed by the Library and then support the Library in making a difference in the lives of others.

Sanghak Kan and his wife, Sophea Chim, immigrated to the United States in 2017 with their children after 12 years of applications. They quickly settled in Long Beach’s Cambodia Town and it wasn’t long before they visited the Mark Twain Library. Senior Librarian Jennifer Songster introduced them to resources to connect with their new community and services for their children. Their eldest daughter received homework help from the Family Learning Center and developed her reading skills through the Summer Reading program. Both of these programs are supported by the Library Foundation.

Sanghak wrote a letter of thanks to Mark Twain Library staff last year:

Congratulations to my beloved daughter who is a first-grader in the Long Beach Unified School District. She received the Character Award, “I will always be a scholar,” last month!

As a parent I am so excited about her first ever achievement in first grade. I recognize that this good result came from many factors, and one among those is the Summer Reading Program. Heartfelt thanks to the City of Long Beach and especially the Mark Twain Library for making the Summer Reading Program happen smoothly and fruitfully. This program builds a habit and love of reading for children and gets them involved with creative, innovative and joyous activities.

Hand in hand – families, schools, and libraries – we can shape our young generations for a bright and prosperous future.

Sanghak and Sophea have set out to support the Library in doing just that.

Sanghak Kan teaching a Khmer language class at the Mark Twain Library.

In less than two years they have become two of the Library’s most dedicated volunteers. Sanghak volunteers every weekend to teach beginning Khmer language classes at the Mark Twain Library. Last month, he started an English language class for Khmer speakers.

Sophea assists with the classes and she and Sanghak also lead the Library’s new Khmer-English Storytime every Saturday. Their daughter has followed her parent’s example and volunteers as a guest reader at the storytime events.

In addition to his volunteer work, Sanghak began working as a contractor for the Library earlier this year to complete the Khmer Cataloging Project which will make books in the collection searchable in Khmer script in the Library’s online catalog. The Long Beach Public Library has the largest collection of Khmer materials of any public library in the country. The collection has recently expanded thanks to a book buying trip to Cambodia that the Library Foundation helped fund in December 2018.

Sanghak is truly making an impact in our Long Beach community and we hope others follow in his example to help the Library transform even more lives.

KhmerTV PSA about the Library’s Khmer language programs featuring Sanghak Kan, Sophea Chim and their children.

A Visual Story of the History of America’s Libraries

Check out this recent visual story by CityLab that shows how American libraries went from restrictive private clubs to battlegrounds for the Civil Rights movement, and finally to the welcoming learning and community spaces of today’s public libraries. Brave and generous individuals and groups made this possible.

Check Out City Lab’s Visual Story

Support Long Beach Public Library Programs

From Job Seeker to Paralegal

Megan needed a job so she turned to the Library Foundation supported Family Learning Center at the Mark Twain Neighborhood Library. Read her letter of gratitude below.

I have been searching for a job in my new profession for 18 months and have had no luck…until today! I just received an offer letter to which I accepted.

The library resources at Mark Twain have been a God-send during my search. In addition, the Library staff have been extremely supportive and so kind. They truly made my job search experience better by just being here. They have been so supportive and helpful. It felt as if they were part of my job search team.

I earned my paralegal certificate and finally was offered a paralegal position at a tremendous family law practice so I would like to thank you.

I’m excited to start the next chapter of my life.

Thank you again,
Name has been changed at writer’s request.
Learn how you can support the Family Learning Center program and other free library services that make a difference in the lives of library patrons like Megan.