First published in the Nov. 12 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.
Assemblywoman Laura Friedman presented Glendale Central Library with $6 million in state funds to create a space for teenagers, update the children’s area and create ADA-accessible restrooms among other library upgrades on Nov. 4.
Renovations to the library are expected to be completed by 2024. Friedman joined Councilmember Paula Devine, City Manager Roubik Golanian, Glendale Unified School District Superintendent Vivian Ekchian and Glendale Library, Arts and Culture executives for a reception to announce and show gratitude for the library funding.
To fund the project, the city of Glendale identified several significant funding sources to support the complete vision and maintenance of the library. In addition to Friedman’s work to allocate nearly $6.1 million to the state budget, which will be administered by the California State Library, the city of Glendale was also granted $5.7 million from CSL’s Building Forward fund and $2.5 million in local funding from Measure S.
The city of Glendale commissioned architects Johnson Favaro LLC to plan and design the latest renovations.
“When we requested over $6 million for the Glendale Library, we flagged it as our top priority for the city because it’s an important investment for our young people,” Friedman said in a statement.
Friedman noted that the allocated funding to the city’s library underscores the importance of having civic places for teens to engage with.
“At a time when we see fewer civic places for teens and more young people retreating into the virtual spaces of the internet, it’s important to give teens a place to go that feels like their own space and allows them to engage on their terms,” she said.
“There’s value in getting people together in person, getting to know community members, and ensuring teens have a safe space to interact and grow.”
The teen space was designed with a sense of independence and personal expression in mind and Gary Schaffer, director of Glendale Library, Arts and Culture, explained in a statement: “This project will create an exciting space for teenagers to study, hang out and create in ways that are developmentally appropriate.”
Plans for the space include sound-buffering windows and an updated sound system with a control room with an aim to expand audio recording options for podcasts and more. Additional study spaces, a social gaming space and a multi-use area in the center to accommodate teen programs and workshops are included in renovation plans, according to Schaffer.
Plans for the children’s room include installing windows to bring in more natural light, an area for toddlers and babies to play, wallpaper with characters from children’s literature and a playful ceiling inspired by Armenian textile design to indicate the space belonging to children and families, according to Schaffer.
Like the teen space, the children’s room will have an area in the middle of the space that will allow for story time, STEAM workshops and after-school study time.
“I remember a few years back when they said libraries are going to die, that nobody is going to libraries anymore but I see kids with books and I see kids cheering here. Kids are still excited about the library,” Devine said in a statement about the project’s relevance.
“It’s exciting for the city, for the parents who will have a safe place for their kids, and, of course, exciting for the kids themselves,” the council member said.
Jane Viar , president of the Board of Directors of Glendale Library, Arts and Culture Trust, thanked Friedman for the help with the funding.
“What a gift you are to our city — there are no words, really … The Glendale Library Arts and Culture Trust is very excited and committed to raising more funds for this project to benefit Glendale’s youngest citizens,” Viar said about her commitment to see the job through.
The 92,600 square foot Central Library is an iconic example of Brutalist architecture designed by Welton Becket and Associates, which first opened in 1973. A renovation in 2017 created a vibrant public space and addressed critical safety and system upgrades, but the effort needed more funding to remodel spaces for youth. Along with the latest interior renovations, the city of Glendale will install a 400 kilowatt-hour solar panel system in partnership with Glendale Water & Power. And some of the more practical updates in the project include the efficiency of building systems and the repair of the roof.
Other public figures in attendance include school board members Shant Sahakian and Ingrid Gunnell, former GCC president David Viar, GLACT board members Joan Zierhut and Anahid Oshagan, and Arlene Vidor of the Glendale Arts and Culture Commission.