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Laurie Ender: Welcome your new city-owned libraries

Posted: October 30, 2010 8:57 p.m.
Updated: October 31, 2010 4:30 a.m.
 

Imagine going to your local library and opening the door to a colorful art and photography exhibit sponsored by the local school districts.

As you make your way to the stacks of books, you notice row after row of new computers, the latest magazines and novels as well as the classics, a music and movie library, a toy library for children, Wi-Fi, comfortable meeting rooms, even a machine that can print a shelf-quality book on-site in minutes.

Welcome to your 21st century Santa Clarita city library.

For the last 10 years, the city of Santa Clarita has been in the library business.

In the 1990s, residents in the Canyon Country area came to the City Council, concerned that their local library was entirely too small to accommodate a growing community.

Although the oversight for libraries in Santa Clarita was and is currently under the direction of the county of Los Angeles, the city stepped in and funded, designed, built and opened a new and much larger library — the Jo Anne Darcy Canyon Country Library.

A similar scenario was repeated in Newhall when area residents asked for a new and larger library to replace the small, 1960s-era library in that community.

With the completion of the Old Town Newhall Library (slated for mid-2012), the city of Santa Clarita will have built and will own two of the three libraries in the city.

Two months ago, the City Council voted to assume management for the three local libraries beginning July 1.

Access to materials
Currently, users of the libraries in Santa Clarita have access to the combined holdings of the county of Los Angeles Public Library. After July 1, when the city takes over, library users will continue to have this type of access.

The City Council understands that having access to shared resources is a high priority for our local library users. A variety of exciting options exists for resource-sharing partnerships which will ensure that our library users continue to have easy, online access to search for and order materials from libraries outside Santa Clarita.

These partnerships are being negotiated with other jurisdictions, and the city looks forward to reporting further on this topic in the near future.

In addition, the city will spend a considerable amount of money annually to increase and improve the items available on our local library shelves.

Library employees
It is our hope that most current library employees will want to remain with our libraries in positions similar to their current positions.

Library Systems and Services (LSSI), the public library management firm we have selected to operate our public libraries, will speak individually to all current library employees who want to remain with the library to get to know the current staff members, their strengths and their areas of interest.

In filling positions in the new Santa Clarita Public Library, LSSI will give strong preference to existing county of Los Angeles Public Library staff. LSSI plans to begin the hiring process in early spring 2011.

What’s important?
Libraries are a cornerstone of our community. They play an important role by promoting a lifelong love of reading, and they serve as a central community gathering place.

Libraries offer visitors a wide variety of materials, including the latest novels, national magazines and computers with free Internet service.

Libraries help to improve literacy, enhance cultural awareness, help educate our children and engage our seniors.

Clearly, libraries are critically important to our quality of life here in Santa Clarita.

With the city managing our three public libraries, we can tailor and create programs, events, exhibits and more to meet the wants and desires of our local community.

We can customize our local public libraries to be community meeting places and comfortable facilities for learning and sharing.

This extends to the acquisition of books and media, special programs, technology, operating hours and so much more.

We want to make sure that Santa Clarita’s libraries meet our community’s needs and expectations.

Why now and how?
As the impact of the recession is absorbed by communities everywhere, library services are facing deep cuts. In Santa Clarita, we value our local libraries and want to do things better.

While other communities are cutting back on library facilities, the city of Santa Clarita is building a new 29,000-square-foot library in Old Town Newhall. (Check out the construction project over the next several months at: http://www.santaclaritalibrary.com/webcam.asp.)

As other communities slash library hours and services, the city’s library hours will increase by 19 percent and the book and media budget will increase by 22 percent.

We will do both without new taxes.

When the city assumes the operation and maintenance of our local libraries, all of the money collected in the city will be spent on libraries within our city, enabling the new Santa Clarita Public Library system to fully fund and operate the three local libraries with increased hours and an increased book/media budget.

What’s next?
Right now, the city is inviting residents to submit an application for a new Citizens Public Library Advisory Committee. The purpose of this committee will be to assist with conducting a community-needs assessment and developing a strategic plan for public library services within the city of Santa Clarita.

As a community, we can build our own libraries of the 21st century. I encourage you to be a part of this exciting process.

For more information regarding the Citizens Public Library Advisory Committee or to schedule a speaker to attend your meeting to discuss this new program, check out our library website at: www.santaclaritalibrary.com.

Laurie Ender is a Santa Clarita City Councilmember and can be reached at: lender@santa-clarita.com. Her column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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