Felton Library Friends (FLF), a chapter of the Friends of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries, is dedicated to excellent library collections and services for the residents of Felton, Bonny Doon, Ben Lomond, Brookdale, Zayante, Mt. Hermon, and Lompico. Included in the Felton branch’s user population are some 16,000 people, including approximately 4000 children. The SLVUSD K-12 public school campus, located less than a mile from the branch, services nearly 500 middle school and nearly 800 high school students from the entire San Lorenzo Valley, as well as nearly 600 K-5 students. The SLVUSD home-school headquarters, as well as several private schools and pre-schools are located in the Felton branch service area. It also serves over a thousand seniors, a growing section of the population.

Central to FLF’s purpose is support for the Felton branch library as an essential component of the community life valued by our library users, and support for a new 8,000 square-foot facility that will, for the first time, provide adequate library services to the southern San Lorenzo Valley.

The Report states that “one strategy proposed by library administration in March was the closing of some branches [including Felton and Boulder Creek], leaving the book and materials collections and the computers and turning the facilities over to their communities for use as reading rooms/learning centers,” and then implicitly recommends this strategy “as an intermediate-term strategy to allow the SCPL system to focus and develop the financial foundation necessary to create long-term sustainability for a system that can be expanded again as future revenues increase.”

None of the following issues is discussed in the Report: strategies other than branch closings, the effect on communities of closed branches, how reading rooms/learning centers would be funded and staffed in the event a branch were closed, the political implications of branch closings, and the fairness of branch closings in relation to resident contributions to the Library system (property and sales taxes). FLF strongly supports the coming work of the Task Force established by the Library Joint Powers Board to explore a variety of scenarios for system sustainability.

FLF strongly opposes the closing of community libraries in the San Lorenzo Valley, and strongly opposes the assumption that only the smaller libraries should be considered as branches to be served, in part, by volunteers at public service desks. The nearly 30,000 residents in the San Lorenzo Valley comprise a significant subsection of the population that supports the Library through sales and property taxes. The same population has been grossly underserved from the beginning of the Joint Powers Authority, despite repeated intentions and resolutions on the part of Library administrators and the Joint Powers Board to rectify this inequity.

In addition, FLF considers it unrealistic to think that the system will “be expanded again as future revenues increase,” which presumably might include reopening branches that had been closed. Once a branch is closed, it will almost certainly be closed forever. For this reason, FLF holds that the closure of any branch must be considered only as a last resort, and only after all possible scenarios for financial sustainability have been extensively explored.

July 28, 2010