After nearly four hours of presentations and public comments, the City Council of Santa Clarita voted 4-1 on Tuesday to withdraw from the County of Los Angeles Public Library system and establish an independent municipal library, placing both library ownership and managerial decisions within the City’s control.
City Hall was decorated in a sea of red with a large portion of residents wearing shirts that expressed support of the County library system. The shirts, which read, “I love L.A. County Libraries,” were provided by the Service Employees Interntional Union, which supports Los Angeles County librarians.
With the City’s decision, it now has the authority to contract its library services management to Library Systems & Services, LLC, a private library outsourcing company from Maryland. Before the topic at hand was opened to public comment, LSSI gave a presentation showcasing their work with other cities as well as with the Library of Congress and Smithsonian Institute.
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What followed was a barrage of public comments voicing their satisfaction with the County’s current level of service. Much like the sentiment that was evident during the recent matter of campaign contribution limits, many from the audience simply asked the Councilmembers why the move toward City takeover was necessary.
Before making their decision, Councilmembers asked Deputy City Manager and Director of Administrative Services Darren Hernandez for clarification on a number of matters including fees, wait time for books and collection size, with Hernandez concluding that it would be within the City’s means to equal or surpass the County’s level of service.
Council then moved forward with the withdrawal, with Councilman Bob Kellar being the only member in opposition.
Although the hands of the clock had moved past 11, the audience was more than awake. With the majority angered by the decision, many began chanting, “Recall! Recall!”