About the Library — Planning Documents


Facts About the Santa Cruz Public Libraries

Vision: Transform Lives and Strengthen Communities

Mission: Connect, Inspire, Inform


  • Relevance
  • Inclusiveness
  • Community Engagement
  • Responsive Service
  • Safe Environment

Service Area:

The Santa Cruz Public Libraries are organized to serve all the people of Santa Cruz County except residents of the City of Watsonville, which maintains an independent library. Residents of the two jurisdictions can and do use either library system. Approximately 219,000 people live in SCPL's service area.


The Santa Cruz Public Libraries (SCPL) system delivers information, education, enrichment, and inspiration through a network of 10 neighborhood library branches, a web-based digital library, a Bookmobile and community-based programs.

Branch locations include Aptos, Boulder Creek, Branciforte, Capitola, Downtown Santa Cruz, Felton, Garfield Park, La Selva Beach, Live Oak and Scotts Valley


The Santa Cruz Public Libraries operate under a Joint Powers Agreement among the County of Santa Cruz and the Cities of Capitola, Santa Cruz, and Scotts Valley. Members of the Joint Powers Board are the County Administrative Officer from the County of Santa Cruz, the City Manager from the City of Capitola, the City Manager from the City of Santa Cruz, and the City Manager from the City of Scotts Valley.


SCPL library services are provided through the Fourth Amendment of the Library Joint Powers Agreement with the funds made available by the Santa Cruz County Library Financing Authority. The Authority distributes revenue from the permanent ΒΌ cent sales tax to fund libraries and property tax funds allocated for public library services from the unincorporated areas of the County as well as the cities of Capitola and Scotts Valley.

Santa Cruz Public Libraries has a modest income from bequests, fine revenue, donations from the public and the Friends of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries, Inc.


The Library system provides access to a wide variety of materials. Items in print, spoken audio on disc and via download, electronic databases (between 80 and 100 selections), as well as streaming video are all available for research and entertainment. In FY 2015-2016, Santa Cruz Public Libraries circulated 1,740,738 items. In addition, patrons using the Digital Branch checked out 57,776 items. Patrons are able to request items from throughout the system for delivery to the branch of their choice. Inter-Library loan allows the Library to supply titles we do not own, further expanding resources for the patrons of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries. All branches and the Bookmobile offer free Wi-Fi access.

SCPL staff have created important local databases:

  • The Community Information Database, a comprehensive source of information for health & human service agencies, environmental groups, hobby clubs, daycare & preschools, political organizations, service organizations, social & fraternal organizations, and support groups in Santa Cruz County.
  • SoundSwell, a streaming database of local music that library cardholders can download
  • SCPL Local History Gallery, an online collection of more than 1500 images dating from the 1860's to the 1990's. There is also an online historic postcard collection from Santa Cruz of 521 items.

The majority of our Collection "floats" to the branch where it is checked in. Items are not sent back to the original branch from which it was taken allowing materials to refresh each branch's collection on a regular basis. Special Collections of Local History, Californiana and SoundSwell DVDs are located at the Downtown Branch, as is the collection of the Genealogical Society of Santa Cruz County.

The Library's web site, www.santacruzpl.org, provides access to various electronic resources as well as information about the Library and our online Local History archives. One of our more popular resources is the California Driving Permit Test that offers free practice tests. The site contains the Driver Handbook for both automobile and motorcycle tests. 150 computers are distributed across the ten branches to offer public access to the Internet.

Reference & Cardholders

Staff answered 386,213 reference questions in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016. In that same time period the Library recorded 134,707 registered users.

Open Hours

Most library branches are open 5 days a week, and evenings until 7. Aptos and Scotts Valley are open 6 days a week, and Downtown is open 7 days. Downtown and Live Oak are open on Sunday afternoons.


The library system has 84.5 full time equivalent regular positions, with 94 total regular employees. Twenty-one are professional librarians with Master of Library Science degrees. The library also employs a corps of on-call substitutes and temporary aides


Each year on average, 225 volunteers donate approximately 12,500 hours of direct service to SCPL. Volunteers serve in all ten branches and at special events. Many volunteers serve in specialized capacities such as photographer, videographer, Lego Master Builder, chess coach, grounds groomer, Dial-a- Story reader, Homework Help assistant, and face painter. 22 therapy dogs volunteer their time with the Tales to Tails program. There are over 100 unique volunteer assignments across the system coordinated by the Library's Volunteer Office.

Future Plans

In June 2016, 70% of the voters approved a bond measure (Measure S) to renovate or replace all 10 library facilities. SCPL has 8 years to complete all 10 building projects and 30 years to pay off the bonds via a $49.50/residential parcel/year tax.

Friends of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries, Inc.

The Friends of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries, Inc., is a nonprofit organization whose members support the Santa Cruz City-County Library System through fund-raising, volunteer services and advocacy.