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A word from County of Los Angeles Public Library

Posted: October 23, 2010 12:25 a.m.
Updated: October 24, 2010 4:30 a.m.

Editor’s note: The following column was written in response to a “Right Here, Right Now” column headlined “Why city stewardship may save our libraries,” which published in the Oct. 15, issue of The Signal.

In her column, Leah Pollack cites the alarming closure of public libraries in the city of Los Angeles as a predictor of the county library’s future operations.

However, the city of Los Angles Public Library and the County of Los Angeles Public Library system are two entirely separate municipal jurisdictions. The two budgets are not intertwined or related.

The county library determines its own programs and services based on the benefit to its customers without regard to the city of Los Angeles’ plans or budget.

The city’s closures do not in any way predict the county library’s future.

Like all business owners and hard-working Americans, municipal governments are feeling the negative impacts of the nationwide economic downturn.

However, the county’s public library system is managed prudently and conservatively. Although belt-tightening required a reduction in hours at some community libraries, there were no reductions in any of the Santa Clarita libraries because revenues were sufficient to cover operating expenses.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed a fiscal year 2010-11 budget that commits to keeping all county libraries open with no layoffs.

Access to county collection
Although it is technically correct to say that Santa Clarita residents will have access to the county’s collection, the city and the privately held Library Systems & Services LLC (the firm that the city is contracting to run its libraries) have not accurately characterized that access.

Access to the county collection will be severely limited, slow, incomplete, difficult to navigate and brokered through an agreement with the Southern California Library Cooperative.

Currently, Santa Clarita residents have access to the county’s entire online catalog with 7 million items available to them.

Whatever online catalog the city provides will only have immediate access to the items held by its three libraries. There will be no direct connection between the two catalogs.

That means that when residents want to request an item from the county, they have two choices. They can exit the city’s catalog, go to the county’s catalog, write down the name, author and ISBN of the item they want, drive to one of the city’s three libraries and fill out an interlibrary-loan-request form to ask for the material.

The second choice, if they hold a county library card, is to stay in the county’s catalog and choose the most convenient of the county’s 80-plus pickup locations, such as the Castaic or Acton-Agua Dulce libraries.

Here is a list of requested items that the county will not send via an interlibrary loan:
n any DVDs, CDs or other audiovisual material such as audiobooks.
n any item that is being requested by our own customers.
n any item that is the only remaining copy in our collection.
n any reference books.
n any titles that have orders for additional copies.

We are not singling out Santa Clarita with these policies. They are standards we practice toward any jurisdiction.

Almost every library in the Southern California Library Cooperative follows the same practices.

Pamela Broussard is a public information officer for the county of Los Angeles Public Library system. Her column reflects her own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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