Tuesday, February 8, 2011

HEAD LIBRARIAN SEEKS “EXTREME MAKEOVER”

Santa Cruz City Council Meeting Tonight Will Likely Seal the Fate of the Felton Library 
The Future Felton Library Once Again in Jeopardy
Teresa Landers, the Director of the City-County Santa Cruz Public Libraries System recommended to the Library Joint Powers Authority Board (LJPB) that four of the oldest and most revered branches in the system be shut in favor of what she termed the “boldest and most visionary” plan for the future.  Her favored model involves “changing the face” of the library by eliminating the La Selva Beach, Branciforte, Garfield and Felton branches from the system, reducing the hours of operation of the Boulder Creek Branch and repurposing the system to reach out to people who do not currently use it.

Landers presented a rapid-fire, 30 minute, power point summary of four service model proposals developed over four months by a 20 member task force composed of LPJB members, library staff, paid consultants and ordinary citizens. For the next 90 minutes the Board listened to a stream of  two minute appeals from the public.  

Only two of the four models garnered any significant support and the vast majority of those present favored a model that kept existing branches open.  Library staffers however argued for the model favored by their boss saying that the current system was no longer relevant in our high tech age.  

A large contingent of SLV residents present felt they had been ambushed.  Most assumed that after campaigning hard in 2008 for an extension of the County sales tax to support the existing system that saving local branches was a shared goal.  It turns out that the library administrators have a different vision.  Closing branches appears to be more a philosophical difference than a financial one.  Each of the service models presented was developed using the same revenue numbers.  The allocation of the available funds between staffing, materials, special projects and reserves were the major differences.

While acknowledging the obvious passion residents expressed for their local libraries, Landers painted them as “nostalgics” who were failing to embrace the library of the 21st century.   

LJPB member and County Supervisor Ellen Pririe received an ovation when she rejected Lander’s “bold and visionary” characterization saying that the proposal “takes libraries away from people and that’s not the business we’re in.”   She was joined in her support by fellow board members Supervisor Mark Stone and Nancy Gerdt of Felton.

LJPB member and Scotts Valley City Councilman Jim Reed indicated he was ready to vote to close the branches in favor of a higher materials budget presumably to help fill the new branch being built as a cornerstone of the long promised Town Center. Ironically, Scotts Valley was the only jurisdiction in the County where voters turned down the 2008 sales tax measure.    He was joined by Board chair and Capitola resident Barbara Gorson.  Santa Cruz resident Leigh Poitinger appeared ready to sacrifice her local Branciforte branch in favor of the staff proposal.

Santa Cruz City Council LJPB members Katherine Beiers and David Terrazas indicated they will wait to until their consituents have an opportunity to weigh in at tonight’s SC City Council meeting before coming to a decision.  

The ninth Board member, Sam Storey from Capitola, missed the meeting because of a death in his family.

4 comments:

Aoibheall said...

Landers, who only moved to Felton to take the library job, has no roots in the community and therefore doesn't realize that in closing branches, she will be biting the hand that fed her the money that keeps the library going. If four branches are closed, it's a pretty sure bet that no one in Santa Cruz County will vote yes when Landers asks for more money with another bond measure.

Miche said...

Great summary of an important meeting. Next week's meeting will also be crucial, as the board will hear more public comment before discussing Models and probably deciding on one.

Brie said...

Is there an address where we can send letters of protest or petitions?

JC said...

Brie,
Thanks for reading.
Here is a link to the LJPB membership: http://www.santacruzpl.org/aboutscpl/govern/ljpb/members
These nine people will make the final decision. Supervisors Pirie and Stone and Citizen member Nancy Gerdt are all strong supporters of local branches. SC Council members Beiers and Terrazas and Capitola City Council member Storey are the likely swing votes. SV City Council member Reed as well as Citizen members Gorson and Poitinger appear to be supporters of closing the branches.

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