Award to Long Beach Public Library
to its outstanding work on behalf of people with disabilities, the Long
Beach Public Library won for the City of Long Beach the prestigious Helen
Putnam Award for Excellence from the League of California Cities. The
Award declares that, because of its Public Library, the City of Long Beach
“has created a unique partnership with several local agencies serving
people with disabilities” and that it has “opened doors to a wealth of
resources” for those people by creating Long Beach’s Information
Center for People with Disabilities.
road to the award began when Long Beach Public Library participated in the
California State Library’s (CSL’s) “Public Library Services for
People with Disabilities” program, a two-year, $1.4 million project that
helped public libraries improve their services to people with
disabilities. Funded by the Library Services and Technology Act,
participating libraries worked with their communities during 2002/03 to
identify the best ways to do that.
award-winning result of the California State Library’s training was Long
Beach Public Library’s Information Center for People with Disabilities
that opened October 21, 2003 during Disabilities Awareness Month. The
Friends of the Library built the 420-square-foot Center in the Main
Library that includes state-of-the-art computers with adaptive technology,
a printer, a scanner, and a variety of assistive devices. The Center also
houses a reading area with books for adults and children, videos, and
magazines on topics related to disabilities.
Long Beach Center empowers people with disabilities. In its first year
alone, the Center served over 1533 people who, for the first time in their
lives, used computers and accessed the Internet, retrieved library
materials from shelves, and read books without assistance.
Center can actually change lives. Bill had thought that education and
employment were over for him after an accident fifteen years ago left him
paralyzed from the neck down. After using a computer with only his eyes at
the Center, though, Bill went on to enroll in Long Beach City College’s
distance learning degree program and now plans to become a computer
further the Center’s mission, Long Beach Library has adapted its
policies, such as extending loan periods, to reflect the needs of people
with disabilities. Further, the library now identifies services for people
with disabilities as one of its “core services” and plans to expand
the program to its branches, creating mini-centers in each.