Library Trustees Send Letter Opposing Takeover to Fulleton City Council

In an emergency meeting yesterday Fullerton’s Library Board of Trustees adopted a letter to the Fullerton City Council opposing the Council’s proposal to appoint themselves as Library Trustees. The proposed change from appointing members of the public to serve as Trustees in favor of the Council appointing themselves to the Board was originally suggested by Councilmember Jennifer Fitzgerald, who has made statements to the media suggesting that she favors selling the Hunt Branch Library.

The full text of the Library Board of Trustees’ letter is below:

“September 17, 2018

Dear Mayor Chaffee and the Honorable Members of the Fullerton City Council:

The Fullerton Public Library has been governed by an administrative Board of Trustees for over one hundred years. In that time, generations of Fullertonians turned billions of pages of millions of books, but more importantly the Fullerton Public Library has been supplemented in its mission through the open hearts of volunteers and the open wallets of its generous patrons.

We find it deeply disturbing that the City Council would direct staff to prepare an ordinance to replace a century of precedent concerning the library’s governance without collecting input from the individuals and associations deeply invested with making the library the success that it is today.

The Council has not made its case for change, so it is impossible for this Board to offer a constructive argument for why it ought to justify its own existence, but the purposeful exclusion of the Library’s support groups from this important conversation does not require an argument to understand its obvious offense. The City Manager and the City Attorney had ample time and ability to include supporters and volunteers in this process. They chose not to. We strongly object.

Should the Council desire to assume direct management of the City Library, it ought to start with an inclusive conversation and receive input from its volunteers and supporters.

If the Council has a case for change, we invite an open and transparent discussion in the form of a joint meeting with the Library Board of Trustees. We traditionally include the Friends of the Fullerton Library and the Fullerton Library Foundation in all our discussions.

As such, we insist they have a seat at the table when discussing the future of our free and public library. Until this conversation occurs, it is in the best interest of the City and the Library to table decisions related to how our hundred-year library operates, serves its patrons, and promotes continuing lifelong learning.

Sincerely,

Sean Paden, President, FPL Carl Byers, Vice-Chair, FPL, Joshua Dale, Trustee, FPL Ellen Ballard, Trustee, FPL Ryan Cantor, Trustee, FPL”

City Council May Take Over Library Board–Two Meetings to Attend

Fullerton City Council 2018
Please plan to Attend the Fullerton City Council’s next meeting: 6:30 pm, Tuesday, September 18th, City Hall Council Chambers – 303 W. Commonwealth Ave. Fullerton, CA. It’s the first item of New Business. The staff report is here: Attachments 1 and 4
 
September 18, The Fullerton City Council will consider abandoning the century old practice of appointing Fullerton residents to serve on our Library’s Board of Trustees, and instead appoint themselves!
 
Buried in the nondescript title of “CITY OF FULLERTON BOARD / COMMISSION / COMMITTEE REORGANIZATION” is a proposal to place the responsibilities of the Library Board of Trustees with the City Council itself: Two City Council Members would become members of the Library Board of Trustees in January 2019 and the remaining Council Members would assume the remaining Library Board of Trustees seats as current Trustee terms expire or become vacant. The change would also reduce the participation of Fullerton residents to an advisory one only by creating a Library Advisory Commission.
No reason has been given for this proposed change!
This idea was originally suggested at a May 1, 2018 Council meeting by Council Member Jennifer Fitzgerald, who has also recently suggested that the City sell the Hunt Branch Library and that the Orange County Public Library should takeover Fullerton’s entire library system.

In response, Fullerton’s Library Board of Trustees has scheduled a special meeting of its own to consider their response to this possible change by the City  Council for Monday, 5:00 p.m., September 17 at the Main Library, 353 W Commonwealth Ave, Fullerton, CA 92832.
We are sending this information to you because the potential sale of the Hunt Branch Library could be strongly affected by a major change in the library’s governance. One of the reasons library boards exist at all is to provide some measure of insulation from pressure from private interests, political groups, and city councils themselves. There is no sensible reason to discontinue the longstanding, 112 year practice of having an independent Library Board of Trustees, composed of community members and give more direct power to the City Council.
The proposed change has taken many by surprise–including all three boards serving the library! Neither the Fullerton Library Foundation, who privately raise funds for the library, The Friends of Fullerton Public Library, who operate its bookstore and organize its periodic books sales, nor the Library Board of Trustees themselves were ever consulted about this unprecedented change, or even informed of its appearance before the Council this Tuesday night.
Please support an independent Fullerton Library Board of Trustees by letting your City Council know you oppose this unwarranted change. Contact them here:
303 W. Commonwealth Avenue | Fullerton, CA 92832
(714) 738-6311
Also, please attend Save The Hunt’s Special Tour and Presentation About Hunt Branch Library September 24 – William Pereira’s contributions to architecture and planning in the 20th Century and the significance of Fullerton’s Pereira-designed Hunt Branch Library building.
Thank you for supporting our library!

Special Tour and Presentation About Hunt Branch Library September 24 (Updated with Parking Map)

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UPDATED WITH PARKING MAP! (See below)

William Pereira’s Hunt Branch Library: Fullerton’s Hidden Mid Century Gem

Rare Opportunity to tour Fullerton’s Hunt Branch Library, September 24, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m., 201 S. Basque Ave, Fullerton, CA

Presentation by Alan Hess, September 24, 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., Pacific Drive Elementary School, 1501 W. Valencia Dr., Fullerton, CA

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Parking for the Sept. 24 tour and presentation.

Renowned architect, historian, and author Alan Hess will discuss William Pereira’s contributions to architecture and planning in the 20th Century and the significance of Fullerton’s Pereira-designed Hunt Branch Library building on Monday, September 24, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. at Pacific Drive Elementary School, near the library itself. The presentation will be preceded by a special tour of the Hunt Branch Library from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. The program is presented by Save the Hunt, a community group dedicated to keeping the now closed Hunt Branch Library in the public realm. The tour and program are free of charge. Free parking is available at Pacific Drive School.

Though beloved by generations of Fullerton residents, the Hunt Branch Library is unknown to many outside of the city, who are often surprised to find such a well preserved modernist “hidden gem” near quiet suburban neighborhoods. This tour offers a rare opportunity to experience the spacious interior of the Hunt Library, with its largely untouched mid century details and open air alcoves.

The Library was a gift to the City of Fullerton from the Norton Simon Foundation in 1962. The ten thousand square foot building closely mirrors the style of the former Hunt Food & Industries headquarters, a four story structure located adjacent to it, also designed by Pereira as part of an award-winning unified campus. Both buildings are particularly significant because they represent some of the architect’s final high modernist designs, but incorporate some elements of his later brutalist style.

For many years Norton Simon showcased paintings from his world famous art collection, now housed in his eponymous Pasadena museum, inside the library and installed sculptures by Giacometti and Rodin on its grounds. Mr. Simon had originally intended to build an art museum on the Hunt campus in Fullerton.

For five decades, since its September 1962 dedication, the Hunt Branch served as one of only two branches of the Fullerton Public Library, until being closed for lack of adequate operating funds in 2013 and eventually leased to neighboring Grace Ministries International. This arrangement was said to be temporary while GMI renovated their adjacent headquarters, the former Hunt Food & Industries headquarters. However, the lease has continued through 2018.

Architect and historian Alan Hess has written numerous books and monographs on Modern architecture and urbanism in the mid-twentieth century, including works about the Googie style, the Ranch House, and about architects John Lautner, Oscar Niemeyer, and Frank Lloyd Wright, and has researched the history of Irvine, California, a city master planned by architect William Pereira. Mr. Hess earned a Master’s degree from the UCLA Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning. He is active in the preservation of post-World War II architecture.

Save the Hunt is a group of Fullerton citizens concerned that the historic Hunt Branch Library building is in imminent danger of being sold by the City of Fullerton. The group is exploring viable options for its use to benefit the community rather than allowing this irreplaceable public asset to be sold to a private concern.

A pdf of the flyer above can be found here: Sept. 24 Event Flyer

Library Ad Hoc Committee to Meet at Muckenthaler Center on September 4

Hunt Register
The Library Ad Hoc Committee will meet at another one of Fullerton’s architectural treasures, the Muckenthaler Cultural Center, on Sept. 4 at 5:30 p.m.

The third of four planned meetings of Fullerton’s Library Ad Hoc Committee will be held on Tuesday, September 4, 5:30 p.m. at the Muckenthaler Cultural Center, 1201 W. Malvern Ave. Interested members of the public are invited to attend. Parking is free.

The Library Ad Hoc Committee voted at their last meeting to invite members of the public to submit ideas about possible funded uses for the Hunt Library by the September 4 meeting.

The full agenda can be found at these links:

https://docs.cityoffullerton.com/WebLink/1/edoc/687632/09-04-2018%20Complete%20agenda%20packet.pdf

09-04-2018 Complete agenda packet

The agenda alone, without notes from the previous meeting, can viewed below…

09-04-2018 Complete agenda packet

 

Library Asks for Your Help with Ideas for Hunt for September 4 Meeting

The Library Ad Hoc Committee is requesting the public’s ideas about how the Hunt Branch could be funded as a library, or funded for other opportunities. The next meeting of the Library Ad Hoc will take place at 5:30 p.m. at the Muckenthaler Cultural Center, 1201 W. Malvern Ave., Fullerton, CA 92833.

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Library Ad Hoc Meeting, August 6

August 6 Agenda Library Ad Hoc

The Library Ad-Hoc Committee will hold its second meeting on Monday, August 6 at the Conference Center Room of the Main Library, located at 353 W. Commonwealth Ave. The Agenda can be viewed at this link: Agenda-12.

At the committee’s request, the meeting will begin with a short presentation by a member of SaveTheHunt.com about our Hunt 101 presentation last month.

The Regular Business Agenda includes the following items:

  1. Selection of a Chair and Vice-Chair, held over from the previous meeting.
  2. Prioritizing Council Direction Regarding the Purpose of the Library Ad Hoc Committee, evidently still not clearly understood by the Ad Hoc.
  3. Cost to Operate the Hunt Library as a Library, provided to the council numerous times, when they have continually declined to fund it.
  4. Requirements and Estimated Costs to Bring theHunt Library up to Current Standards for Publicly Accessible Buildings, a critical number to have when considering any use for the facility.
  5. Proposed Publicly Beneficial Uses of the Building and Grounds, the two important words here are “publicly” and “grounds.”
  6. Proposed Funding Sources for Improvement of the Building and Grounds, we’ll see what sources the members have identified.

 

Library Ad-Hoc Committee Meets to Consider Hunt Library Future

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The new Library Ad-hoc Committee held its first meeting on July 11 at the Hunt Branch Library. The committee is charged with presenting options to the City Council for the ultimate disposition of the Hunt facility, now closed to the public, and leased out to neighboring Grace Ministries International (GMI), for the sum of $ 1,500.00 per month. Library Director Judy Booth, who serves as an ex-officio member of the Ad-Hoc, led dozens of members of the public on a tour of the historic William Pereira building before announcing that the meeting would have to be moved outside to accommodate the overflow crowd. Chairs, tables, microphones, and speakers were transported to the mid-century modern building’s spacious front porch where the meeting proceeded for hours through the warm summer evening.

The Library Ad-Hoc Committees mission is to ‘determine “what funding might be available to fund the (Hunt Branch Library) property as a Library or other opportunities for use of the property,” according to the meeting’s agenda. The five members of the Ad-Hoc directly appointed by City Council were first charged with the selection of a Chair and Vice Chair before selecting four additional members from a pool of nearly twenty applicants. During a public comment period at the beginning of the meeting, however, applicant and former Fullerton City Council Member Jan Flory suggested reversing these two agenda items so that the additional four members of the Ad-Hoc could be seated before the Chair and Vice Chair elections. After other public comments, all five members of the Ad-Hoc (Peter Beard, Fern Richardson, Michael Williams, Egleth Nunnci, and Barbara Kilponen) voted to adopt Ms. Flory’s suggestion to reverse the order of the committee appointments and officer elections, taking up the former first.

Applicants were invited to introduce themselves to the committee members and respond to questions about their qualifications. In addition to Jan Flory, applicants included Rafael Avila, Scott Bryan (who withdrew his application on the spot), James Cho, Arnel Dino, homeless activist Curtis Gamble, former City Council Member and current NOCCD Board Member Molly McClanahan, Judith Milan, Kristie Prince, former Ladera Vista Principal Randa Schmalfeld, and nearby resident James Wolvert. Several applicants were not present for the meeting.

Ad-Hoc member Fern Richardson questioned applicant Jan Flory about her own role in failing to fund the Hunt as a Library and approving the lease to Grace Ministries during her tenure on the City Council. Jan Flory blamed the decision to “terminate library services” for the Hunt Branch on the economic downturn and the need for funds for the then-newly renovated Main Branch. She characterized the low monthly rental rate of $ 1,500.00 charged to Grace Ministries per month lease that she herself voted to approve as “shameful,” but explained that she supported it at the time because it was only supposed to last eighteen months, and that a plan was supposed to have been formulated for the Hunt’s future.

Each Ad-Hoc member rated a full list of applicants, with Library Director Booth serving as the de facto facilitator and elections committee. One audience member suggested that any applicant not present should not be considered for the position, but another noted that the date of the committee’s first meeting had not been advertised enough in advance for prospective members to alter prior commitments. The committee members agreed to consider all applicants, present or not. Ultimately, the four additional members selected by the committee were Jan Flory, Molly McClanahan, who was not present at the meeting, Kristie Prince, and Randa Schmalfeld.

Selection of a Chair and Vice-Chair ended in a deadlocked vote with four members supporting Peter Beard and four supporting Randa Schmalfeld. The eight present members agreed to proceed with the meeting with Peter Beard acting as Chair for the night, but postpone the decision on a permanent Chair and Vice-Chair until the next meeting, when a ninth member would be expected to break the tie.

The committee then addressed the scope of work it would perform, with respect to its City Council mandate, requesting materials and information for consideration at least three days in advance of their next meeting. Specifically, the committee directed the library staff to provide a spreadsheet and analysis of the projected costs to operate the Hunt once again as a library, including the estimated costs to update the facility to meet current requirements for publicly accessible buildings. Additionally, Committee Member Schmalfeld requested a detailed map of the property to help define which parts of it actually constitute the grounds of the Hunt with respect to the adjacent dog park surrounding tracts. Jan Flory went so far as to request all materials collected by SavetheHunt.com, a community group dedicated to keeping the facility in the public realm. The Ad-Hoc also committed to exploring other “beneficial uses of the building and grounds,” as well as possible funding sources for such uses.

The Library Ad-Hoc Committee will next meet at 5:30 p.m., Monday, August 6 at the Conference Center Room of the Main Library, located at 353 W. Commonwealth Ave.