Goleta’s library offers a wide variety of resources to the public, and much of what is offered is funded by The Friends of the Goleta Valley Library. The all-volunteer group, established more than 30 years ago, has picked up the slack in many areas that suffered radical budget cuts in the past few years due to extremely lean budgets in the city of Goleta, the county, and the state.

The library’s Friends support extensive children’s programs, make computer and multi-media purchases, add to the adult and juvenile collections, finance facilities upgrades, and, beginning last year, pay to keep the library open and staffed on Monday afternoons and evenings. Mondays were on the chopping block when normal funding sources proved inadequate for a full week of service. “It costs approximately $1,000 every Monday it is open from 2-8 p.m.,” said Corinne Horowitz, president of the group and a member for about 10 years. “And the library has been especially packed every Monday recently,” she said. On top of that, circulation of materials over the last six months has increased by 10 percent at the Goleta Library.

The Goleta branch library usually serves more than 1,000 people a day, who borrow books, CDs, DVDs, and audio books; use computers at no charge, do homework, or stay and read.

“Libraries are amazingly busy in these economic times,” said Horowitz. “The number of people using the library computers is almost overwhelming, with people searching for work, checking email, and doing general research. Many families and individuals do not have their own computers— especially when money is tight.”

The Friends organization has been the “sole support of the children’s summer reading program for years,” said Claire VanBlaricum, a former Friends board member who is currently a member of the county’s library advisory committee. “In funding all of the children’s programs we bring in a minimum of one performance a month – musicians, theater groups, puppet shows, dancers, and so on,” added Horowitz. “We’ve been able to do this only by being very careful with how we spend our money.”

Just some of the Friends’ annual expenditures are $64,000-plus for librarians’ salaries and extra clerk hours, and $6,600 in children’s programs

Beyond children’s programs, the group puts on concerts and lectures of interest to the general public. “Bats: What Hollywood Doesn’t Want You to Know,” by Mary Wenzel, an expert on the mammal, will take place at the Fairview Avenue library Sunday, March 14, at 2 p.m., for those 10 and older. A baroque music concert will take place there March 28, a concert by The Firecat Trio (flute, violin, and cello) on April 18; and UCSB’s Stefania Tutino will give a talk on “Galileo and the Church” May 23.

In order to fund all that it does for library patrons, Friends runs a year-‘round sale of used books in the lobby of the library with paperback books selling for $1-$2 and hardbacks for $1-$10. “They’re the best bargain in whole county,” Horowitz said. The group also raises funds with an annual charity auction of books signed by well-known authors. This spring, volumes written and signed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and John Ashcroft are among 110 books that will be up for bid and on display in the library’s lobby. “We’re very proud of the Friends,” Horowitz said.

Not a lot of money is spent on audio books and DVDs because a large percentage in the library’s collection has been donated by members of the community, Horowitz said. “Patrons have been generous with financial contributions and donations of books,” she said. “In fact, if I can get a donation of a ream paper, we’ll take it,” she said. “Bright yellow paper (for the monthly newsletter) makes me so happy. We can always use contributions like that!”

Memberships in Friends of the Goleta Valley Library start at a modest $10 a year for individuals. Family, Patron, Sponsor, and Library Lover categories are also options. Information about joining or contributing to the group is available at www.friendsofthegoletavalleylibrary.com.

The library is open from 1-5 p.m. on Sundays (no phone service), Monday from 2-8 p.m., Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.


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