Why is Santa Barbara Public Library leaving the Black Gold Library Cooperative and is it the right direction for our community?

As the executive director of the nonprofit What is Love, which works to end violence against women and girls through relationship education,I’ve worked with library staff on many programs over the years, so I went straight to the source. They were happy to explain the situation in detail.

Staff had brought lots of ideas for improving the efficiency of services, particularly the sharing of physical library materials, over the years. For the majority of new, in-demand items, the system of delivery and shipment was a labor-intensive process that just shipped items around unnecessarily. This new system would cost significantly less, leaving more room in the budget for books and programs. Library staff explained that even though Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo libraries would be independent, it was still possible to share materials.

As a community educator, I know that the value of the library is so much more than just books. The new Library on the Go van takes services to schools, senior centers, parks, and to hubs that serve our homeless neighbors. The library’s Stay and Play program has brought early literacy services to hundreds of families.

At the end of the day I’ve witnessed the thoughtful, intentional way the staff at the Santa Barbara libraries approach their work. Change is hard. But I trust that SBPL is moving in the right direction.


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