With a $25 billion state budget deficit and across-the-board cuts looming, Los Altos public library officials can read the writing on the wall.
Santa Clara County libraries, which include the Los Altos main and Woodland branches, will likely incur approximately $1.3 million in cuts, according to Jane Cronkhite, Los Altos community librarian. Monies for Transaction-Based Reimbursement, which funds library use by nonresidents, will be eliminated, to the tune of $800,000, she said.
Members of the Los Altos Library Commission discussed Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget last week and suggested preliminary steps to minimize or avert the drastic reduction in state funding.
“We’re encouraging citizens to communicate to their legislators about how important their library is to them and to encourage continuation of funding,” Cronkhite said.
According to Melinda Cervantes, Santa Clara County librarian, Brown plans to eliminate all funding for libraries – $30.4 million statewide.
“We’re tightening our belts this fiscal year” as a result, she said.
In addition to Los Altos, the cuts would impact other county libraries – Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Milpitas, Morgan Hill and Saratoga – bookmobile service in unincorporated areas of the county and the system’s headquarters in Los Gatos.
The libraries work cooperatively to offer free services for residents and nonresidents alike, Cron-khite said, but elimination of funds could translate to elimination of free services and an increase in fees.
Cronkhite said library officials are in the preliminary stages of planning to offset losses. With funding for nonresidents on the chopping block, the libraries may start charging nonresidents a fee for using the library, she added.
Last June, voters approved Measure L, a 20-year, $76 annual library parcel tax (increased from the $52 library parcel tax passed in 1990), effective this year and specific to the Los Altos libraries, which will be used to maintain current operating hours and purchase books and materials, she said.