LIBRARY LOWDOWN — Now that the Pico Branch Library is open, many of you may be wondering what’s going on with the new library. Well, it is like participating in a marathon most of the time you run and sometimes you run even harder. Getting ready for a marathon takes perseverance, training and encouragement from friends and family. As the Pico Branch Manager, I see the Pico Branch as running a marathon where the community kept their perseverance to have this library open in the heart of the Pico neighborhood and participated in community meetings about the site, design and programming of the new branch. The training was to prepare for the Pico Branch Library opening with a high quality collection, modern technology and offering the latest services for all ages and interests. The encouragement was from the community and City Officials to stay focused on the marathon’s path.
The Pico Branch staff is dedicated to offering the best library services to the Santa Monica community and to create a holistic hub of amenities and information for our visitors. Since the Pico Branch opened in April 2014 over 100,000 materials have been checked out and over 84,000 library users have visited. We have registered nearly 1,200 new borrowers. I am proud to say that the Pico Branch Library offers an excellent variety of community programs. In collaboration with Virginia Avenue Park, the Pico Branch Library has added dynamic, educational and fun programs for all ages. Over 120 programs presented thus far for adults and children in English and in Spanish.
Ready, Set, Read was the theme for the Pico Branch’s grand opening in June and it continued throughout the summer with the branch’s first Summer Reading Program. The Pico Branch alone registered over a thousand kids, many of them teens who nearly 500,000 minutes were read by those who signed up at the Pico Branch. Hooray! In addition to the reading logs and incentives for children, we also offered 44 Summer Reading Programs that included story times, author talks, performances, and crafts, attended by close to 1,500 participants. Our rich array of programs include:
Story Time twice a week including, one in Spanish, a summer reading program, craft activities for children of all ages, homework help twice a week for 1st through 5th grades, college workshops for teens, movie screenings for all ages, three book clubs for adults including one in Spanish, e-book and apps workshops for teen and adults, health workshops in Spanish and in English, thematic resource fairs, cultural events, informative neighborhood fairs and branch library tours, author talks for all ages.
With all these numbers and programs, you might be wondering what a typical day is like. The library is thriving and abuzz with activities. The Pico Branch Library is a dynamic 8,690 sq. ft. facility with large windows looking out onto the Virginia Avenue Park. Designed by Koning Eizenberg Architects, the Pico Branch Library offers a sense of serenity while you are reading a good book, magazine or working on the computer. Throughout the week, adults embrace the library during the day, while the youth community takes over in the afternoons and evenings. The children’s excitement is evident as they are reading books, checking out study rooms, participating in the Homework Help program or browsing through the many collections.
Virginia Avenue Park has become a one-stop, educational and recreational shop as you can be part of the park’s workshops, enjoy a good work-out and relax at the library. The Pico Branch receives on average 400 to 500 visitors per day during the week while on Saturdays there are over 600 visitors. It’s quite common to hear different languages spoken in the library, especially Spanish. Our bilingual Spanish/English staff is proactive in showing library users how to utilize the new automated book drop/check-in feature and our self-check-out stations. The library staff also offers help on how to use our new Zinio and Hoopla databases for those who love the online experience. Hoolpla is our new streaming service to download or stream movies, music, audio books and television using your computer, tablet or smart phone. Zinio is also is our new full color, interactive digital magazines ready to be downloaded on your device.
On Saturdays, the community triangulates with the library, Farmer’s Market Zone, and the park becoming an interactive learning experience. The community visits the library carrying their bags of vegetables and children with their beach towels come to check out books and movies before heading out to the Splash Pad in the park.
In collaboration with Virginia Avenue Park we established our first cultural event on December 5th, “Caroling Around the World.” The spectacular sounds of the Santa Monica Symphony String Quartet, talented students from Santa Monica High School and the Emeritus College Spanish Folk Singing Group, provided spectators with an enchanting evening of music. Future cultural events will be held on the first Fridays of every other month from 5-7 p.m. Make sure to check out our library calendar for our upcoming event in February. In addition, we also offer thematic Resource Fairs on the first Wednesday of every other month. Our next resource fair is on Fitness and it will be held on Jan. 7 from 3-5 p.m. in the Farmers Market Zone. The Pico Branch Library is incredibly popular and well used by our community. Its innovative technology, along with the public meeting room, the Annex, and the stunning architecture makes the library a state-of-the-art facility where the community can read, connect, relax and learn.