The city of Santa Clarita is considering taking over the operation of the three library branches located in the City of Santa Clarita from the county of Los Angeles.
Why Privatizing the SCV libraries is a bad idea:
- The libraries in Santa Clarita are one of the best things about living in the area. They are well run, kid-friendly, adult friendly and staffed with knowledgeable and helpful people. Why mess with a successful operation? There aren't that many of them (successful operations) around.
- All of those nice, friendly, helpful people who currently staff the library will lose their jobs and benefits. During this time of high unemployment and economic troubles why would we want to do that to the locally based employees who are currently doing such a fine job.
- Those people, like me, who live outside of the city of Santa Clarita limits in unincorporated parts of the county of Los Angeles such as Stevenson Ranch and Castaic will likely lose their library privileges. (This even though we pay the same taxes as the city residents for library support.) The FAQs on the Santa Clarita website disingenuously state that those who live outside of the city proper will still be able to "go to" the library. It does not say that we will still be able to check out books.
- The county library system currently consists of 89 branch libraries. The entire collection of each of these libraries is fully and easily accessible to every county library user. This is to me the real beauty of the library system and the reason the local library is so useful. Nine times out of ten the specific book I'm looking for is not housed in the local library. It actually never ceases to amaze me how few of the books I look for are available, even in the relatively well-stocked Valencia branch library. But, I have been ever so grateful for the easy to use web-based L.A. County catalog that allows me to click a button and order a book or DVD from another county library. In a few days it conveniently shows up on a shelf at the Valencia library with my name on it. All this at no charge, no need to have a librarian search a database for me or fill out a form.
- This Web-based intralibrary request system is not at all like an inter-library loan. If the city takes over the local libraries interlibrary loan would be the only access SCV users would have to the county books. I recently had need for a book which was not available in any of the county libraries. I stood in line and waited for the assistance of one of the reference librarians to ask about an interlibrary loan. He searched his database of libraries for me. I was warned that although the book was available in several Southern California libraries that it was completely at the discretion of those libraries whether or not I would ever see the book. I had to fill out a form and pay $3.00 for the privilege. About a month and a half later I received a notice in the mail that my interlibrary loan request had been filled. I now have the book but will not be allowed to renew it. The Intralibrary request items are renewable up to 3 times just as if I had gotten it from the shelves of the local library.
- Please Don't Take The Library Services Away!
I could go on about the wonderful kid's summer reading programs that both of my children have participated in, the helpful librarians who helped me find resources for my Middle School Social Studies classes etc., etc. This is a terrible idea!