Hoping to combat state budget cuts, the county’s public libraries are asking for their supporters to start showing a little love.
Today, the Santa Barbara Public Library System is hosting the first “Library Snapshot Day” at each of its branches. An event that was celebrated nationwide on Monday, the celebratory day is meant to capture “a day in the life of the library” and demonstrate the importance of public libraries to the community, as well as encourage donations. Libraries in Santa Barbara, however, had to host their Snapshot Day today because budgetary issues caused most public libraries in the county to close on Monday.
Irene Macias, Santa Barbara’s public library director, said she hopes locals will turn out at the county’s libraries bearing pictures, anecdotes and statistics that demonstrate the widespread impact libraries have on Santa Barbara.
“We’re asking people to come to the library and tell us how much they love their library,” Macias said.
According to Macias, Santa Barbara public libraries should be able to launch a publicity campaign highlighting the value of libraries to children, communities and the state after today’s event.
Across the nation, most public libraries see hundreds of visits each day and thousands each year. Allison Gray, supervising librarian at the Goleta Branch Library, said area public libraries will only seem busier as state cuts continue to leave them understaffed or forced to reduce operating hours.
“One of the things we want to do is show people how busy libraries are right now,” Gray said.
In Santa Barbara, all branches have scaled back their hours — a few branches were shut down, reduced to running only two days a week — and are no longer operating at their full potential. Macias said another reason for today’s event is to highlight the services made available by county libraries — services that may be dwindling as state library funding continues to suffer.
“We want to capture all of the activities that libraries are doing,” Macias said.
According to Macias, computer and internet access, electronic tutorials, tutoring and one-on-one employment advice may become too expensive for some libraries to offer without state or outside funds.
However, Macias said an influx of volunteers and participants to the county’s public libraries would help sustain them. One way to assist the public library system, she said, is to volunteer at a local library as a computer coach, a summer reading helper, a graphic artist or someone who shelves books.
If you are interested in assisting in the campaign in any way, you may contact the Goleta Branch Library at (805) 964-7878.