Santa Clara County Library to Close All Libraries on Mondays, Beginning October 11, 2004

For Immediate Release:
September 2004

Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Milpitas, Morgan Hill and Saratoga affected, plus 2 branches and Bookmobile


September 7, 2004 Many libraries throughout Silicon Valley will be closed on Mondays, beginning October 11, due to a $1.1 million budget shortfall this fiscal year for the Santa Clara County Library system.

The libraries affected are located in Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Milpitas, Morgan Hill, and Saratoga. Also cut back will be two branches operated by the Santa Clara County Library - Alum Rock and Woodland - and the popular Bookmobile that serves outlying neighborhoods, child care centers, senior centers and migrant labor camps. All but three of these libraries are already closed on Sundays.

The action was the result of a unanimous vote by the Santa Clara County Library Joint Powers Authority which also took into account the possible loss of $5.3 million in June 2005 when the Benefit Assessment tax expires. This is a significant revenue source for the Santa Clara County Library system, and the JPA will discuss at future meetings what additional cutbacks may be needed. Still under consideration by the JPA is whether to ask voters in 2005 if this source of funding for the libraries should be continued. A measure on the March 2004 Election Ballot that would have extended the assessment fell just short of the required two-thirds vote for approval.

“The decision to close on Mondays was very difficult for the JPA board, but with the $1.1 Million revenue shortfall, we had no other choice,” said Richard Lowenthal. “What is really daunting is that if the voters don’t pass the library ballot measure next year, we’ll be short another $5.3 Million and the effect on the libraries could be truly disastrous.”

The cutback in hours comes at the same time as an increase in use of the Santa Clara County Library. More than three million visitors now come annually to the libraries in the Santa Clara County Library system and they are checking out 10 million items a year.

“In today’s economy, public libraries are a bargain,” said Melinda Cervantes, Santa Clara County Librarian. “When a single hardbound book costs $26.95, magazine subscriptions average $15 a year, and monthly Internet Services cost $30, it’s easy to see why so many people use the public library in their community.”

Libraries have been a high priority for most local communities in the past few years. The initial vote in 1994 for an assessment of $33 per single-family home to support the Santa Clara County Library received overwhelming support, but this funding is scheduled to end in 2005. Several of the communities served by the Santa Clara County Library have invested in new and expanded library buildings including Los Altos and Saratoga, which opened their new facilities in 1996 and 2003 respectively, and new libraries are under construction for Cupertino and Alum Rock. The City of Milpitas has just started on the design of its new library and Gilroy and Morgan Hill have applied for library construction grants from the State. In most of these communities, the library building is owned by the city but library contents and operation are provided by the Santa Clara County Library.

The Santa Clara County Library has been recognized three years in a row by the national Hennen’s American Public Libraries Rating for providing high quality, cost effective services. The Library system has a diverse collection of materials in more than 25 languages and in many formats such as CDs, DVDs, videos, audiobooks, and electronic full-text databases. The Santa Clara County Library web page, www.santaclaracountylib.org, offers access to the library catalog, electronic research databases and other information about library services, programs and hours.

The mission of the Santa Clara County Library is to provide comprehensive library services to residents of unincorporated areas of the County and residents of nine cities -- Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Milpitas, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, and Saratoga. Any member of the public, regardless of their home address, can obtain a Santa Clara County Library card and use its collections and services.

Contact:
Sarah Flowers, Deputy County Librarian
Melinda Cervantes, County Librarian