About the Library — Planning Documents


Strategic Plan 2010-2015


photo of people at the library


library logo Library Joint Powers Board
Barbara Gorson, Chair, Citizenmember
Leigh Poitinger, Vice-Chair, Citizenmember
Katherine Beiers, Santa Cruz City Council
Nancy Gerdt, Citizenmember
Ellen Pirie, Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors
Jim Reed, Scotts Valley City Council
Mike Rotkin, Santa Cruz City Council
Mark Stone, Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors
Sam Storey, Capitola City Council

Message from the Chair of the Library Joint Powers Board

photo of Joint Powers Board Chair Barbara GorsonGiven the significant challenges the Library System is currently facing, it is more critical than ever that we develop a solid strategic plan which defines our purpose, guiding principles, and service priorities and key objectives for the future. We are very fortunate that our community loves and uses its libraries and I am thankful that we received so many valuable comments from community members over the past six months. I am confident that we will meet our challenges and find opportunities to continue to rethink and improve library services. It will take all of us -- Library Board members, Library Staff, and our Community -- to reach our goals. With your help, the Santa Cruz Public Libraries will remain front and center in our community; connecting, inspiring, informing, and improving the quality of all our lives.

Barbara Gorson
Library Joint Powers Board

Message from the Library Director

photo of Library Director Teresa LandersThis is an exciting time for libraries across the country. Most, like Santa Cruz, are facing the most challenging financial situation they and their communities have ever faced. Yet, it is also a time of opportunity. It is a time to reexamine all we do, find ways to be more responsive to our communities' needs, and provide service in new and relevant ways. Every day we impact lives and the community; from the toddler with her first board book to the unemployed worker who applies for a job using library computers.

While we can't plan our way out of a recession, a strategic plan can provide direction. By understanding our purpose, vision, mission, values, and goals, we create a framework within which the governing board and staff can operate and make decisions. During the planning process we strove to involve the community as much as possible. I am confident we will survive this difficult phase and come out the other end stronger for it. We are facing much change and my hope is that this plan will help us face the threats and recognize and take advantage of the opportunities.

Teresa Landers
Library Director

The Strategic Planning Process

This strategic plan was developed during August 2009-March 2010. A steering committee representing various segments of the community was selected to lead the process with input from the Library Joint Powers Board, library staff, and the community at large.

photo of kids and books Committee:
Teresa Landers
Emily Galli
Janis O'Driscoll
Diane Cowen
Merritt Taylor
Barbara Gorson
Nancy Gerdt
Leigh Poitinger (alternate)
Katherine Beiers
Sam Storey
Bill Tysseling, Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce
Theresa Rouse, Santa Cruz County Office of Education
Mary K. Simpson, Friends of the Library
Mac-i Crowell, Teen Advisory Board
Julia Rogers, UCSC and South County
Becky Barrett James Bourne Ann Brucken
Ann Bunn Darshana Croskrey Judy D'Alessandro
Ron D'Alessandro Gwen and Tim Clark                Nancy Drainkard
Susan Samuels Drake                Taffy Everets Jack Farr
Renee Fleming Glenda Hastings Tracey Hawes
Dorrie Kennedy Jackie Keogh Mike Keogh
Mary Klassen Dawn LeClair Paul Machlis
Darby Kremers Sylvia Lee Carole McPherson
Teall Messer Jerri Milgilacutti Stacy Mitchell
Michele Mosher Molly Ording Matt Pond
Tracy Pond Lise Quintara Marilyn Robertson
Rene Roland Renee Rothman Paula Sarkar
Ernie Tavella Phyllis Taylor Valerie Tudor
Debra Van Bruggen Elizabeth Walch Ronnie Zamora
Martha Zentner    

Special thanks to Sandi Imperio for layout and design.

The Process


Eleven town halls were led by the library director. These were held in the communities served by each of the ten branches and a special bilingual one. This also served as an opportunity for the new library director, who arrived in July 2009, to get to know the communities and for them to get to know her through an informal "meet and greet" held before each session.


Special focus groups were conducted with the library director and various members of the steering committee meeting with senior citizens, homeschooling families, the homeless, Bonny Doon community members, and the business community. Library staff participated in two sessions and engaged in a values exercise.


A survey was administered in the library branches, online and at grocery stores throughout the county service area during 4 Saturdays in January and February. Over 2500 responses were received.


The Library director maintained a blog which invited comments. A web page devoted to the strategic plan was kept updated with data as it was received and included an opportunity to submit comments. Over 50 comments were received.


An environmental scan was conducted to glean local and library demographic and statistical data deemed useful to inform the planning process. This data also included comparisons with similar libraries in California and throughout the United States and a review of national library trends.

View data from the process



Photo of teen program at the library


At the town halls and focus groups people were asked about strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities.

The clearest message from the community was support for a free library system open to all. Being able to borrow items throughout the system and free computer access were also consistently mentioned as strengths. Friendly helpful staff was also identified as a major strength.


The most glaring weakness identified was the dearth of hours the libraries are open and the overall lack of adequate and consistent funding, with dependence on the now unreliable sales and property taxes. Opinions varied greatly on the best response, but it was clear that difficult decisions would need to be made to ensure a financially sustainable library system.

The need for better marketing and establishment of a clear brand were also identified as weaknesses; resulting in the public not necessarily understanding all the services thelibrary has to offer.


The biggest threats identified were the uncertain financial future and the perception that libraries have become luxuries rather than necessities.


There were many who see the financial difficulties as an opportunity to look at everything anew and reshape the system by identifying efficiencies and changes that will better position the library to survive financially and remain relevant.

Specific opportunities identified included building partnerships in the community to improve financial and other support, making better use of local talent, and putting a focus on the library as a center for community learning and interaction.


photo of volunteer and child


At the town halls and in the survey, participants were asked to prioritize services.

The top responses were remarkably consistent throughout the system.

photo of child and bookshelves
  • Reading, Viewing and Listening for Pleasure was number one for both the survey and the town halls
  • Lifelong Learning was number 3 for both the survey and the town halls
  • Create Young Readers was in the top 4 for both; even in town hall sessions with no young parents
  • Connect with the Online World ranked 5 for the survey and 6 for the town halls
  • Visit a Comfortable Place was number 8 for the survey and 4 for the town halls
  • Finding and Evaluating Information and Reference Services were higher priorities on the survey than in the town halls
  • Homework Help was a high priority for youth under 18 and for the Latino community according to the survey and number 6 in the town halls

"Reading, Viewing, &
Listening for Pleasure"
was number one

All this information is reflected in this plan. The plan includes a statement of purpose, vision and mission statements, shared values, guiding principles, and six strategic directions with accompanying objectives. Goals and specific action steps are included in a separate document and will be continually evaluated and developed as the plan progresses with input from appropriate stakeholders.


By the Numbers

Resources Available to the Community

  • 10 branch libraries plus Outreach Services
  • 1 bookmobile with over 17 distinct stops
  • 1 virtual branch (website)
  • New Scotts Valley branch scheduled to open April 2011
  • SCPL facilities open 206 hours per week in FY2009/2010
  • Collection of 516,167 items
  • Staff: 97.42 full time equivalents in FY2009/2010
  • Volunteers: 550 active volunteers contributed 14,378 hours in fiscal year 2008-2009
  • 152 public Internet access computers


photo of the bookmobile


Services Provided to the Community

In fiscal year 2008-2009 at SCPL, there were:

  • 2,221,819 loans to customers
  • 1,285,407 visits to the library
  • 342,661 Web visits from outside the library
  • 299,473 information requests
  • 126,147 registered borrowers
  • 1,994 programs attended by 41,219 people


photo of library programs and space


Santa Cruz County

Over the past decade, Santa Cruz County's population has been growing at about 1/2% per year. Santa Cruz county is growing less than half as fast as California overall. The county population is projected to increase 6.5% by 2020, to a total of 286,500.

The demographics are expected to change slightly, The Latino population is expected to reach 42% from a current level of 36% by the year 2020.The proportion of young people to seniors shifted from 2001-2009 with a 3.1% reduction in the number of children under the age of 14 and a 1.3% increase in the number of adults over the age of 45. As the Baby Boomers move into their 60's in increasing numbers, it is likely that the shift will continue.

The proportion of young people to seniors shifted

intergenerational photo

Since early literacy was a high priority for the community, the decrease in the number of children could have important implications for the library system, as could the increased Latino population. A growing population of seniors will create a greater demand for popular reading and lifelong learning materials and programs. As the baby boomers age it is likely they will be more computer proficient than the current population of seniors, yet will still remain very book focused, whereas the younger population will most likely have a very different perspective. This could result in a difficult clash in priorities for the library, but is not expected to make a big difference in the next 3-5 years.

Comparison with Other Libraries

Comparisons are made with three libraries with a similar county structure and service population (209,000), in California. National comparisons are with public county libraries with a population of 100,000-250,000. State and national comparisons are made based on the availability of the particular statistic.

  • Reference transactions per capita are 1.59 with the national mean at 1.05 and a high of 9.72.
  • Holdings per capita are 2.79 volumes with the national mean at 2.70 and a high of 5.82.
  • The mean for open hours per branch is 25.5 and the median is 26.5. Santa Cruz is 20.4. 60% of our branches do not meet minimum state and federal branch standards for open hours and staffing.
  • Library visits per capita is 5.18 with the national mean at 4.92 and a high of 19.75.
  • Circulation per registration is 33.37 while the national mean for libraries of 100,000 to 250,000 service population is 8.10, with the highest being 49.17.
  • The population served per FTE staff is lower than the California mean (2,945). Santa Cruz is 1,778.
  • Circulation per capita is 10.40. This places SCPL among the top 15% of state libraries and is significantly above the California mean of 5.78.
  • Material expenditures per capita are $4.71 which is just above the national mean of $4.68. The upper quartile is $6.32 and the median is $4.09.
  • The national mean for expenditures on salaries is 49.9% with a high of 76.9%. SCPL is at 65%.

Note: Source of most data is 2007/2008 fiscal year

SCPL: Change for the Future

Libraries throughout the United States are facing many challenges and an uncertain future. Libraries, like any organization, need to evolve to stay relevant to their customers. A review of the literature identified five trends. SCPL is committed to monitoring these trends and incorporating the value added aspects of these as SCPL looks to the future and its own evolution. These trends are described below with a few concrete examples.

photo of a child in the library
  1. Patrons get service at the level THEY want:
    • Self service: Check out own materials, pick up own holds, check in materials and get a receipt, place own holds, edit own account (change address, pin, etc), pay fines online or at self checkout station, add subject headings (tags) to catalog, RSS feeds about new materials, etc.
    • Single point of service: Reduce customer service desks so that customers receive service at initial point of contact. Requires a change in service philosophy and staffing.
    • Layered service: Library staff is aware of patron's needs and delivers service in accordance with that need not with what staff thinks the patron needs.
  2. Rebranding and marketing
    • Establish the library as a relevant resource in the modern world through services provided and better marketing of those services.
    • Draw innovative ideas from the retail model for merchandising library materials.
    • Market the Library's story so that library materials, programs, and services are more visible and the ways the Library connects, inspires, and informs to transform lives and change communities is made clear.
  3. Libraries as Local
    • Libraries have the ability to provide local content that is unavailable elsewhere (e.g. newspaper indexing, digitizing local historical photographs).
    • Increased opportunities for library staff to take their skills outside to the community (e.g. story time at school free breakfast programs).
  4. Remote delivery of services
    • Is part of self service issue
    • E-books
    • Downloadable audio and video
    • Online book clubs
    • Podcasts, RSS feeds
    • Web based pathfinders and other ways of helping public navigate the web (recommended sites)
    • Community information
    • Online payment of fees
  5. User involvement
    • Use of social media- e.g. Twitter, Facebook
    • Creation of new content- user defined subject headings in the library's catalog
    • Wikis

SCPL Funding FY 2009-2010

pie chart showing funding sources

SCPL looks to the future

photos of library events and text

The strategic planning process is the first step in defining SCPL's activities for the next 3-5 years. The statement of purpose defines who we are and what we perceive to be our role in the community. We see SCPL as a place for the community to connect with knowledge, information (both physical and virtual), and with each other. SCPL is a place to find inspiration whether you are a pre-schooler just learning to love reading or a senior who is exploring something for the first or hundredth time. SCPL is also dedicated to informing the community through a variety of formats and in ways that are customer driven.

The vision describes what we hope to be. Automation will free staff from the more routine and physical tasks. This will change the focus from checking out physical materials to providing more personalized service in innovative ways.

The mission statement describes how we are going to achieve the vision.

This plan outlines how SCPL plans to fulfill its purpose, vision and mission.

SCPL Values and Guiding Principles

The Staff and Library Joint Powers Board embrace these values:

  • Innovation
  • Open Communication
  • Excellent Governance
  • Respect
  • Teamwork
  • Efficiency
  • Humor and Fun

And adopt these Guiding Principles to convert these values into actions:

  • We are customer driven.
  • We commit to continuous improvement and learning.
  • We strive for financial sustainability and responsible stewardship.
  • We seek transparency.
  • We create a welcoming environment for people of all cultures.
  • We seek partnerships.
  • We add value to the community's quality of life.
  • We are dedicated to intellectual freedom and the individual's right to privacy.
photo of paointing of child reading a book

Strategic Directions


photo of library staff People of all ages will find materials for personal enrichment when and where they want them, and they will have the help they need to make choices from among the options.

  • Children in Santa Cruz County will enter school ready to read, write, listen, and learn.
  • All ages will have materials, programs, and displays that reflect current community interests and provide pleasurable reading, viewing, and listening experiences that help them reach their personal literacy goals.
  • People of all ages will have friendly support and intuitive access to the materials and resources they want.


People of all ages will have access to the resources and tools they need to explore areas of personal interest and to pursue their own path of self directed learning.

photo of a child reading

  • People will have access to a relevant collection of resources in diverse formats for all ages.
  • Library users will have access to innovative and successful programming which reflects the cultural, educational and informational needs of the diverse communities served by SCPL and which will help learners of all ages to achieve their goals.
  • People will have access to innovative technology and the tools necessary to find, evaluate and use information and resources to meet their learning needs.


The community will engage and collaborate with the Library through a variety of dynamic platforms which are responsive to the changing needs of the community and utilize up to date technology.

  • The Library will initiate and nurture partnerships with the public, private, and nonprofit sectors in Santa Cruz County for the mutual benefit of the partners, the Library, and the community.
  • People will strengthen their ties with each other, the community and the library. SCPL will increase its visibility in social networking venues.
  • The community will recognize the value of SCPL in improving their lives and will recognize SCPL as an asset to their community.
  • Volunteers will be used effectively


People of all ages and backgrounds will find safe, comfortable, welcoming and customer-focused physical and virtual spaces which reflect the character of the community and which deliver a 21st century library experience.

photo of a girl reading
  • People of all ages find their branch (physical and virtual) to be a welcoming place.
  • People of all ages will define the level of service they need and want.


The library's infrastructure supports people's access to quality services and programs.

  • SCPL maintains a healthy and stable financial position.
  • There is adequate, stable, and diverse funding to finance ongoing operations, key strategic initiatives, and capital projects.
  • Services of a defined level and quality are consistently delivered, based on revenue projections and a supportive organizational and operating structure.
  • The Library operates efficiently and focuses on continual improvement.


The organization has a well trained workforce available to fulfill the mission of the Library system today and in the future.

  • Staff receives adequate training to do their jobs effectively.
  • SCPL is committed to developing current library staff to become tomorrow's library leaders.
  • Employees have the skills to execute change and are committed to change and continual improvement.
  • A customer driven service philosophy guides staff training and development.

Santa Cruz Public Libraries

7695 Soquel Drive       
Aptos, CA

& Outreach


Boulder Creek
13390 West Park Avenue
Boulder Creek, CA 95006-9301

230 Gault Street
Santa Cruz, CA

2005 Wharf Road
Capitola, CA

224 Church Street
Santa Cruz, CA

6299 Gushee
Box 56
Felton, CA

Garfield Park
705 Woodrow Avenue
Santa Cruz, CA

La Selva Beach
316 Estrella Avenue
La Selva Beach, CA

Live Oak
2380 Portola Drive
Santa Cruz, CA

Scotts Valley
230-D Mount Hermon Rd
Kings Village
Shopping Center
Scotts Valley, CA

Santa Cruz Public Libraries
& System Services

117 Union Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060-3707

photo collage of people at library events

printer icon A printable version of the Strategic Plan is also available in pdf format.