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New Belle Haven library should be top priority

From: domainremoved <LJ>
Date: Mon, 21 Aug 2017 21:08:03 -0700

Dear Menlo Park City Council,

Thank you for your service to the city of Menlo Park and its residents.
I am writing to express my concern that the Arrillaga gift is driving
decisions that are not in the best interest of all Menlo Park residents,
especially Belle Haven residents.

As you may know, the existing Belle Haven library is small, outdated,
located on an elementary school campus, and has very limited hours. We are
in need of a full-service library for residents living on the east side of
Menlo Park.

I moved to Belle Haven three years ago but prior to that, lived in downtown
Menlo Park for over 10 years, and so have experienced living on both sides
of town. Given the level of traffic, distance, and ongoing construction, it
is not feasible to expect residents on the east side of town to drive to
Burgess Park for their library needs.

At every community meeting I've attended during the time I've lived in
Belle Haven, I've requested improved library services. I wrote the library
director over a year ago requesting more hours at the Belle Haven library
and was told that she would "monitor usage." I was perplexed by her
response--why monitor usage on a library that is rarely open? If the city
is deciding whether to expand the Belle Haven library based on usage,
that's a mistake--because you can't use something that is not open.
When I first moved here, I would walk over to the library and be surprised
to see that it was closed during normal hours. Ironically, I was still
living in Menlo Park but the local library was hardly ever open and its
quality was severely lacking. Was it because I was now living in Belle
Haven--that the city didn't care quite as much about whether there were
quality library services being provided? Belle Haven is and has been a
neglected part of Menlo Park. I've experienced it firsthand living here,
and it is certainly the case with library services.
We should have outstanding public libraries that are open and accessible to
all--regardless of what Menlo Park neighborhood you live in. Not having a
quality library in Belle Haven is especially concerning given that Belle
Haven children attend a low-performing elementary school. At the very
least, the Belle Haven library should be top notch and a haven for children
who can get excited about learning at their local library. It breaks my
heart that this is not the case now. This situation should be unacceptable
to all of us.
At book fairs I have picked up free children's books and distributed them
to some of the children in my neighborhood. You should see how excited they
look when I give them a book. Many of these children also have parents who
speak little English and have had limited educational and career
opportunities themselves. Think if these children had a truly great library
in their own neighborhood? With excellent books and library services, these
children could think bigger about their education and options in life.

I strongly encourage city council members to make funding a new library for
the Belle Haven community a high priority and decline the donation that
would take the city away from equally serving all residents.

Thank you.

LJ Anderson

Belle Haven

Menlo Park
Received on Mon Aug 21 2017 - 21:10:15 PDT

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