The Long Beach Library will survey West End residents about their neighborhood branch in order for officials to gauge interest in reopening the facility after Hurricane Sandy.
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In May, voters approved the library general $3.4 million budget for 2013-14, which would cover the $21,600 annual lease for the West End branch that expires in February 2014. The budget, however, did not include $64,000 to restore and restock the one-story branch, at 810 W. Beech St., which closed after all of its materials were destroyed in the October storm.
The library expects to send out the surveys to residents before year’s end, since officials want to wait for the return of more residents after they rebuild their West End homes, Warren Veg, a library trustee, told Newsday. Vegh said:
"We have to do the right thing for the community, the right thing for the taxpayer. The feedback we get, that's how we'll act."The fate of the building, one of two branches in the Long Beach system, was spotlighted last spring when Diane Parr, a West End resident, ran for a seat on the library’s board of trustees held by incumbent Alan Greenberg.
During a pre-election candidates forum, Greenberg called the decision to close the West End library “very difficult,” but cited as a reason the decline in the annual circulation, from 8,000 items to 6,000 and lower prior to the storm.
Parr suggested that the decline may have been due to underperforming technology, and she contended that the branch could and should still operate as a library due to its location. “You will still have a need for books and you need to address the community wherever they are, whether they are in the West [End] or in Point Lookout, and however they feel comfortable,” she said.
The board had proposed converting the branch into a new use, possibly a meeting room for local non-profit organizations as a way to help the Sandy-battered community, or as a technology center equipped with a new computer, printer, Wi-Fi and other devices. The library is presently subleasing the West End branch to Project Hope, which pays $250 per month, and Sustainable Long Island, which uses the facility without charge, according to Newsday.