THE NEW MARK TWAIN NEIGHBORHOOD LIBRARY FROM DREAM TO REALITY: 1958 – 2007   A 50 year old dream was realized at the grand opening of the new Mark Twain Neighborhood Library in 2007 with three “firsts” for Long Beach : · 1st 21st century library · 1st neighborhood library to be built in over 35 years · 1st LEED (“green”) public building (LEED = Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Among the many dignitaries attending the opening was Mark Twain himself. He rarely leaves the Elysian Fields but made an exception for this very special occasion. The story of how the library came to be built is full of twists and turns with many challenges along the way but seemingly always guided by a guardian angel. A new library to replace the old branch had been a dream for over 50 years, since the library was carved out of a Parks and Recreation facility in 1958 as a “temporary” facility. The library was so “temporary” that it didn’t even have a public bathroom! Patrons had to use restrooms in the adjacent park with library staff providing escort services to youngsters! The population had grown from a small, largely African-American community of 12,000 in 1970 to a year 2000 population of over 60,000. The ethnic breakdown in 2000 was 54% Hispanic, 22% Asian (Cambodian, Vietnamese), 22% Caucasian and 15% African-American. The population was also young, with more than 44% of residents 19 years of age or younger. It was also one of the poorest neighborhoods in Long Beach with the lowest educational level. A majority were learning English as a second language. Neighborhood problems include high crime, gang activity, a high poverty level, unemployment and […]