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Burb's Eye View: Northwest Branch Library gets ready to turn the page

July 16, 2013
  • Bryan Mahoney
Bryan Mahoney

Burbank’s Northwest Branch Library on Victory Boulevard is a place where everybody knows your name.

Just ask Norm.

“I miss this library. I haven’t gone to the library much since (it closed),” said Norm Angelheart, who estimates he’s visited the branch for 10 years. “Buena Vista even got large and you didn’t feel like you knew everyone there. It’s lost that little-library flavor.”

Last August, the Northwest Branch closed for upgrades, leaving the neighborhood without one of its most popular resources and scattering patrons toward the Central and Buena Vista branches. The Northwest library filled a difficult niche in that children, their parents and retirees always found something new to explore at the location.

Over the last year, crews made the building compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and safer in the event of an earthquake. This Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon, the branch, located at 3323 W. Victory Blvd., will open for a ribbon-cutting and an open house, and will resume business officially on Monday.

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They can expect a rush from neighbors like Bill and Carol Jones, retirees who used to visit Northwest two or three times a week.

Carol is blind, so every couple days Bill picks up the latest mystery audio books for her. When new stock is in, the Joneses are usually the first to know.

“The staff helped me tremendously,” Bill Jones said. “They’ve gone out of their way to get them for us. … I feel like I’m part of the family over there.”

Burbank is paying for the $617,622 project up front, but will be reimbursed $463,217 through a FEMA grant. The retrofit work includes new bookshelves bolted to the floor, a new fire sprinkler system, widened restroom doors for easier wheelchair access, energy-efficient roof and windows, a raised ceiling and a smoother transition into the children’s area.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tripped on that step going into the children’s section,” said Suzy Jacobs, chairwoman of the library’s board of trustees. She calls her local branch “a jewel” in the small community where landmarks include industrial areas and Bob Hope Airport.

“You’re going to walk in there and you’re going to recognize the library you knew and loved,” she said.

And if you’re one of the regulars, the reverse is true, too.

“Everybody knew me there. … I have to go say, ‘hello,’” Angelheart said.

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BRYAN MAHONEY is a recent transplant from the East Coast. He can be reached at 818NewGuy@gmail.com and on Twitter: @818NewGuy.

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