Burbank Library Services Director Announces Departure Amidst Safety Concerns

(Photo By Ross A Benson)

Elizabeth Goldman, Burbank’s Library Services Director, has announced her resignation, effective Friday, July 5, 2024. This announcement comes at a critical juncture, amidst growing concerns about safety and security within the city’s library system.

According to the City of Burbank’s news release, Goldman, who has served as the Library Services Director since 2016, leaves behind a legacy of innovation and progress in modernizing Burbank’s libraries. During her tenure, she played a crucial role in enhancing online services and leading planning efforts for the proposed new Burbank Central Library and Civic Center. The release also noted she introduced pivotal programs such as the Job Connect Plus program, the Spark! Digital Media Lab, and an expansion of social services to meet the community’s needs.

Library Services Director Elizabeth Goldman has led the city’s library functions since 2016. (photo courtesy of the City of Burbank)

Reflecting on her time in Burbank, Goldman expressed gratitude for the dedication and passion of the library staff, stating, “Serving the Burbank community has been a privilege.” She expressed confidence in the staff’s ability to continue steering the library toward a brighter future.

However, Goldman’s departure coincides with heightened scrutiny over safety and security within Burbank’s library branches, as reported by Gavin Quinton in the Burbank Leader on May 25. (Read Quinton’s article, “Burbank Library Staff Pleads for Stronger Security Measures.”) Insights from interviews with 10 library staff members highlighted recent incidents, including threats, violence, and harassment targeting both staff and patrons, emphasizing the urgent need for enhanced safety measures. Issues such as non-operational security cameras, periodic bedbug infestations, and safety hazards have cultivated a pervasive sense of insecurity among both employees and visitors. For instance, in April, police arrested a man who terrorized staff and patrons, hurling a trashcan at a restroom mirror and yelling death threats, at the Northwest branch of the Burbank Public Library on Victory Boulevard near Hollywood Way, marking one of the most severe incidents among the 207 recorded since July 2023 across all three library branches. Other incidents include stalking, hate speech, public masturbation, defecation, intoxication, and sexual harassment, according to the Burbank Leader article.

At the Burbank City Council meeting on June 4, longtime Burbank librarian Hubert Kozak further amplified these concerns, addressing insufficient support from library administrators and the need for on-site security beyond the existing “library monitor” positions.

Kozak said his decision to speak out stemmed from a genuine fear for the safety of library patrons and staff. “If we do not do better to address the problem at the libraries, it is only a matter of time before a library patron or a member of the staff is going to get seriously hurt,” Kozak emphasized.

In the city’s news release, City Manager Justin Hess thanked Goldman for her contributions. “I wish her all the best in her new venture and look forward to appointing a Director who will continue to build upon the library’s many successes,” Hess said.