I was surprised to discover that I could not get a requested book from our library as it was not in their limited local collection and they have decided to sever exchange services previously available with the Black Gold Cooperative. Then I heard that this action had been approved by the Santa Barbara City Council. As a decades-long library member I have found that a significant number of my own reading requests come from the Black Gold Cooperative members. I often read books coming from Morro Bay, Santa Maria, Santa Paula, and other out-of-the-area collections. Limiting my requests to books in S.B., Montecito, or Carpinteria is not salutary. This increased my “surprised” reaction to one of “stunned.” The council should revisit this decision quickly.

According to the Independent, this is being done to allow the local library to ascertain local interests. This is a bit hard to credit. Is it meant as a form of elitism? Is it meant as a sort of catch phrase? Do we think that the readers in Santa Barbara are so different from the readers elsewhere that we have to “curate” a local product? I doubt that we are so esoteric in our interests.

In its own defense, S.B. Library also claims that they acted unilaterally because “[c]hange was needed, and it was clear that other Black Gold Member Libraries were not interested in any deviation from the status quo, even when it was clearly not working and there were better, more economical options available.” This summation seems pretty damning and a bit arrogant. I find it very hard to believe that these other librarians are so out of touch with the times and so obstinate that the only solution was to cut them off. In fact, we also know that the S.B. Library has picked fights with other local libraries over the years.

Someone needs to find out what is happening in the Santa Barbara Public Library administration that makes it hard for them just to get along with their peers.


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