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Task Force on Financially Sustainable Library Service Models  Task Force on Financially Sustainable Library Service Models

Checking in: The Future of SCPL

Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Bryn's Blog Post

Checking in: The Future of SCPL

So I signed up for this library task force. Now, on alternate Thursdays, you can find me and the other members of the group hunched around a big table in the meeting room of the central branch.

Twenty years ago I reported regularly to the same building. Back then, I wasn't slicing and dicing budget numbers, hunting for efficiencies. I was earning my daily bread as a book jockey, a library page, in other words, a shelver. Next I did a stint at the Cabrillo Library. Then the UCSC Library, where I now push pixels around as a Web Developer.

What I discovered over those twenty years is that libraries are built on contradictions.

Libraries are warm and welcoming places filled with cold hard facts. They harbor centuries-old codexes and cutting-edge computers. They are doorways to the wide world and community gathering places.

These contradictions, it always seemed to me, are the real secret of a library's success. Especially that last one.

We visit local libraries because they provide access to a world of information. But there's more to it than that. We go to attend an event, do homework with a friend, meet a tutor, or find out about local history. In short, we go because our branch libraries are part of our community.

I've known that for a long time. And now I see it in my kids. We go to our local branch a lot, and I get to watch as they build community together with knowledge.

What I didn't know before joining this task force is just how precious and fragile a thing this is.

It's Thursday morning. Time for another meeting of the Service Models Task Force. We're talking about budgets and efficiencies. But I'm thinking about contradictions. I'm thinking about my local library and hoping it can continue to be as global as the internet, and as local as next door.

Bryn Kanar

View similarly tagged posts: library service models
Posted by shieldss on Nov. 16, 2010 at 1 p.m.


February 12, 2011 at 1:37 p.m.:

I love the phrase "horse and buggy library." It reminds me of when I was the horse, pulling the wagon full of my daycare kids to the local branch of the library. It makes me think of parents on bikes pulling carts with kids in them. It reminds me of the teens on skateboards being pulled by their dogs to the Garfield branch.

I usually have about 100 items out from the library at any one time. I stop by the Garfield branch every week on my way home. I think that the library is the only place left in all of Santa Cruz where the people who work there know me by name.

I love that the way to create a sustainable culture is to keep more neighborhoods alive. To stop driving everywhere. To connect with people who live in our neighborhoods. We have a farmer's market I can walk to. We have a local grocery store that I can walk to. We have a local coffee house I can walk to.

I have lived on the west side of Santa Cruz for twenty years. When I moved here as a new parent, the library was the only place worth walking to from my house. Now we have a whole community base for the west side residents.

Why on earth, at a time when returning to practices that draw communities back to the neighborhood model, creating a sustainable, healthy lifestyle, why would the library decide that this is the time to pull out of neighborhoods in order to create a stronger computer screen presence? My children are growing up in an age of screen time.

The library represents something more real, tangible, and community-based than the current trend of technology. I support technology, but the people who can drive places, who want the power tools of technology generally get them. But the kids who have no internet at home can go to their LOCAL, NEIGHBORHOOD branch of the library and get an hour of internet access. They can do that with helpful adults around, surrounded by books and by people who have come there for books. This is the role of libraries.

We need to re-learn how to grow food, maintain soil, reduce reliance on fossil fuels, and help one another. We don't need to drive downtown, try to park, and converge on already impacted areas MORE. We need to do that LESS.

I have often felt that I could never move from Santa Cruz because the library system here is so good. The libraries are the one thing I am always PROUD to have my tax dollars support.

Don't loose sight of why libraries belong in neighborhoods. Factory farming, agribusiness, bottled water, pesticides, privatization, the World Bank... these moves toward bigger and more centralized, shinier power-centers is not creating a world that our children can grow up in.

What values do we want to dig into? What decisions will be the ones we are proud of in five years? In ten?

Don't close the neighborhood branches. There must be a better way.

February 12, 2011 at 11:50 p.m.:

I posted a comment here yesterday. Where do the comments go?

April 10, 2011 at 7:59 p.m.:

How come you dont have your site viewable in mobile format? Can not view anything in my netbook.

December 21, 2012 at 3:13 p.m.:

I think your thoughts are very well written. Thank you for your insights. I hope the Task Force is successful!

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