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January 28, 2015 - Leadership for Librarians
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Like many cities, the City of Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau runs a program entitled Leadership Redondo, which is designed to prepare a select group of individuals who live and/or work in Redondo Beach to become future community leaders.  As the Redondo Beach Public Library Director, I have experienced the value of this program both as a beneficiary and, currently, as a participant.

Each year, a Leadership Redondo group embarks on a two-year commitment.  The first ten months are devoted primarily to a curriculum of intensive study about Redondo Beach’s resources, citywide issues, and residents.  During the remaining months, the group selects and completes a class project benefiting the livability and wellness of the community.

In 2014, Leadership Redondo chose as their class project the enhancement of the children’s areas at both the Redondo Beach Main Library and the North Branch Library.  They raised funds to install murals;  to reupholster furniture; and to purchase soft seating, rugs, educational toys, and AWE computers for both locations.  Erika Snowe Robinson, an artist from the class, designed the murals, which feature characters from well-known children’s stories, and along with help from other class members and local artists, painted them freehand on the walls.  This process took approximately ten weeks.  At the end of the project the community was invited to festive ribbon-cutting ceremonies.

The enhanced areas created new excitement around the Library and were an immediate hit with families of small children.  In December, members of Theatrum Elysium San Pedro Rep performed stories from the mural at the Main Library.  They hope to return in 2016.

Not only was it easier and faster to accomplish this project, which cost approximately $35,000, through an outside group, but the community was more invested in it, as it came from the vision and sweat of their own friends, neighbors, and co-workers.  The project also provided a sense of ownership and pride in the Library to future community leaders.

At the end of 2014, I joined the new Leadership class and embarked on learning about the City (helpful as a new resident) and getting to know my classmates.  These introductions to local organizations and people have already led to some future collaborations.

In my experience, these Leadership programs are an excellent opportunity to strengthen relationships between the Library and the surrounding community.

Susan Anderson, Library Director
Redondo Beach Public Library