Greenberg, who lived in the West End for more than 10 years, said he understands the problems the branch faces, and wants to find the best way to solve them. He said that circulation — the number of books and other materials borrowed — had decreased from 8,000 to 6,000 there in the two years prior to Sandy, and added that every time someone borrowed a book, it cost taxpayers $10.
“I think the time has to be spent to really figure out the best use of the space,” Greenberg said. “I feel it’s important not to abandon the West End.”
The recent turmoil over the branch is what drove Diane Parr to run for the board, she said. “I just stepped up to say we need a voice from this end of town,” she said. “I think I have some good ideas.”
Parr, 72, said she doesn’t think the current board has the best interests of the West End in mind. At a recent board meeting, she said, she was disappointed when she realized that none of the current board members live in the West End.
“Long Beach is a very diverse community,” Parr said. “There should be someone from a different part of town, with a different set of ideas, on the board.”
A retired vice president at JPMorgan Chase, where she managed a technical team, Parr has been vocal at meetings and around town about her desire to keep the West End Branch open. “The budget for the West End library is a drop in the bucket of the whole library budget,” she said.
Parr said that, after the storm, the branch could have reopened long before the main branch, which would have filled an empty storefront in a devastated area. She acknowledged that circulation was down, but added that the library did not do enough to be appealing to residents.
The computers at the branch were so “pitifully slow,” Parr said, that people didn’t want to waste their time trying to use it. The hours of operation changed regularly, she continued, and classes were scheduled at inappropriate times — for instance, a children’s story time at 5 p.m., when most parents are preparing dinner. And she said that some members of the staff listened to the radio during the day, which did not make for a quiet environment. She also said she does not think that circulation numbers accurately reflect the number of people who used the branch.