Santa Barbara Central Library | Credit: Courtesy

The City of Santa Barbara will not be renewing its membership with the Black Gold Library Cooperative, the council voted Tuesday. “Change was needed in order to provide the extent of services we wanted to offer our patrons, and our vision was at odds with the direction the other Black Gold Member Libraries wanted to take,” said Library Director Jessica Cadiente in a statement.

City spokesperson Shelly Cone said the move is in the best interests of the Santa Barbara Public Library (SBPL) in terms of both cost and operational efficiency. “After San Luis Obispo,” she said in the statement, “SBPL has the highest collection budget and purchases the most new print materials annually. SBPL is confident that it can support the ongoing needs of the Santa Barbara community without relying on books from other Black Gold Library Cooperative jurisdictions.” 

In fact, Cone continued, improved statistical reporting of the library’s new catalog, called Koha, will allow staff to pinpoint which collections, topics, and genres are of most interest locally. Currently, there is no way to distinguish between materials being borrowed by local patrons versus loaned to neighboring jurisdictions.

“Anecdotally, we know that Santa Barbara readers have specific and unique interests not necessarily shared by residents elsewhere,” said Cadiente. “The new catalog has an easy-to-use purchase suggestion function, and staff will be actively monitoring collection usage and inviting feedback from patrons in order to build collections that meet the needs of our community.”

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