About the Library — Planning Documents


Facts About the Santa Cruz City-County Library System


The Santa Cruz Public Libraries enhance Santa Cruz County's quality of life by providing vibrant physical and virtual public spaces where people connect, discover, and engage the mind. All ages have the opportunity to nurture their love of reading, find diverse and relevant resources for entertainment and enrichment, and strengthen community networks.


The City-County Library System is organized to serve all the people of Santa Cruz County except residents of the City of Watsonville, which maintains an independent library. However, residents of the two jurisdictions can and do use either library system. About 207,000 people live in the Santa Cruz Library System's service area.


The Library System operates under a Joint Powers Agreement between the County of Santa Cruz, and the Cities of Capitola, Santa Cruz, and Scotts Valley. A Joint Powers Board, comprised of elected officials from each jurisdiction, plus three citizens, administers the System. The City of Santa Cruz provides administrative, financial, personnel, and legal services to the System. Thus the Director of Libraries is responsible to the Santa Cruz City Manager, and all staff, no matter where in the County they work, are employees of the City. The Board normally meets on the first Monday of each month at the Downtown Branch Library, 224 Church Street in Santa Cruz, at 7:30 pm.


The Library System's funds come from five sources: "maintenance of effort" funds from the County (property tax) and the Cities of Santa Cruz and Watsonville general funds, a quarter cent sales tax approved by the voters in 1996, library fee and fine revenue, a State of California Public Library Fund grant, and income from Library bequests and trusts.

The "maintenance of effort" and sales tax revenues are allocated to the Library System and the Watsonville Public Library each year by a Library Financing Authority. The funds are divided using a population-based formula.

The Library Joint Powers Board adopts the annual operating budget of the Library System in late June each year.


The System has ten Branches: Aptos, Boulder Creek, Branciforte (east Santa Cruz), Capitola, Downtown (Downtown Santa Cruz), Felton, Garfield Park (west Santa Cruz), La Selva Beach, Live Oak, and Scotts Valley. The Library System Administrative Offices, the Technical Services (cataloging) Division, and the Outreach Program are located in Headquarters offices in Downtown Santa Cruz. The Outreach Program includes a Bookmobile, senior services, and substantial early literacy services for children.


The Library System owns about 561,000 items, of which 251,859 are unique titles. These are located at all Branches - how many depends upon the size of the facility. The Library's automation system and daily Branch deliveries make all circulating materials accessible to all borrowers, no matter which Branch the borrower uses or where s/he lives.

The collections include books, government documents, DVDs, cassettes, large print materials, compact discs, reference materials, musical scores, sheet music, and more. Special collections of Local History and Californiana are located at the Downtown Branch, as well as the collection of the Genealogical Society of Santa Cruz County. The Library offers public access to the Internet and web-based access to the 82 electronic databases to which it subscribes. The Library's Internet web site, www.santacruzpl.org, is an excellent resource for access to various electronic information resources, as well as for information about the Library and a local history photograph file.


During the 2007-08 fiscal year the Library staff handled nearly 301,000 reference and information queries from the public, at the rate of more than 5,800 queries per week. 2.159 million items were checked out by Library users last year.


Most Library Branches are open six days a week and several evenings each week. The Downtown Branch is open on Sunday afternoon as well as the other six days of the week.


The Library System has the equivalent of 118.85 full time equivalent regular positions, which works out to 134 total employees. 30.75 are professional librarians with Master of Science degrees. The Library also employs a corps of on-call substitutes and student pages.


Each year volunteers donate more than 15,000 hours of service System-wide. This is the equivalent of more than six full time employees. Volunteers did everything from leading story time to visiting homebound patrons. Volunteers are recruited and coordinated by the Friends of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries, Inc. The Friends is a membership organization that supports public library service by advocacy and by raising funds for library programs.


Library plans are based upon Facilities and Service Standards updated by the Board in 2005 and a Facilities Master Plan approved in September 2008. Capital projects that the Board hopes to complete in the next five years include upgrading the library automation system, expanding the Aptos Branch Parking Lot, building a replacement branch in Felton, and (with the Cities of Capitola and Scotts Valley) constructing badly needed new facilities in those communities. Other plans include expanding the Aptos Branch and renovating the Downtown Branch in downtown Santa Cruz.