Public libraries, once viewed as a refuge for the underprivileged, have become a hotbed for racism, sexism and the occasional act of sexual assault.
But as the national library system struggles to attract a diverse workforce and keep pace with changing needs, a new book has shed light on how a small community library, a few miles from downtown Los Angeles, was able to open its doors to nearly a third of its residents last year.
La Public Library of Brentwood is in Brentwood, Calif.
It’s a public library in a public park.
It opened on Feb. 13, 2018.
(Eugene Public Library)A small community of around 100 residents, Brentwood Public Library was founded in the 1960s.
It was the only library in the city that had an open floor plan.
It has been the subject of numerous stories about its diversity, with stories from the L.A. Times to the Los Angeles Times Magazine.
Its open-air location, a short walk from downtown, was part of the library’s strategy.
“We decided to do something small and very public and not be seen as a big city,” said Liz Krieger, a Brentwood resident and board member of the Brentwood Library Association.
She said the community needed a place to gather, so they opened up a small space to hold their monthly meetings, where they were able to host events.
They also added a library card reader.
“The card reader allowed people to pay their bills online,” Kriegers said.
Brentwood has become known for its diversity.
But, according to a recent Los Angeles Daily News report, the library has struggled to attract enough African-American and Latino residents to keep pace.
The library received more than 1,100 complaints in 2018, the most since 2009.
In an interview with the Daily News, Brentbrook Mayor Andrew McNeil acknowledged that it’s not easy to attract and retain African-Americans and Latinos to the community, but he said it was part a larger goal of making the city more racially diverse.
“When I first came here, we had one of the lowest African-African ratio in L.D. in the nation,” McNeil said.
“Now, I’ve got an African-Latino ratio of 12.8 percent.”
“It was an open book,” Kriger said.
“There was a time when you were like, ‘Well, we’ve got a white mayor, so let’s put a library in Brentbrook.'”
It also helped that Brentwood was on the west side of Los Angeles and close to major highways, which allowed people who lived in the neighborhood to get around.
The library also got help from the city’s Public Libraries of Southern California.
The agency provides services like tutoring and special events.
In the summer of 2018, Brentwoods public library opened a second branch.
It also partnered with the LCC to provide a community-based literacy program.
The LCC has received more complaints in the last three years about the library than it has in the previous decade.
“People are coming from all over the state, from other cities,” said Laura Bostick, a member of Brentwoods library board.
“The people who are here are looking for an open space.
We’re not just going to bring in white people.”
Bostick said she hopes to see Brentwood become more diverse in the future.
“You can’t just have a few people come in, open a book, and be the only one,” she said.