Library services will soon be coming to Isla Vista, a long-awaited resource that will arrive in the form of a cargo van, scattered little libraries and book vending machines, after the Goleta City Council voted at its April 7 meeting to move forward with a set of library plans for the beachside college town. 

The services offered caters specifically to families and students living in I.V. Nexus File Photo

The Goleta City Council chose the unorthodox suite of library resources from four options proposed by staff from the Goleta Valley Library, which were based on an outreach project funded by The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, a nonprofit organization which aims to develop relationships and social progress in communities. 

The outreach project has been the driving force in helping library staff determine what the community wants to see in a library for I.V. 

“[The Harwood Institute] trained us in holding conversations with people to assess what their aspirations were for library services from Goleta Library,” Goleta Valley Library Director Allison Gray said at the meeting. “Altogether, we had 14 outreaches and we spoke with about 720 people — over 600 of whom were from the Isla Vista area.”

Alongside the hybrid option, the library also proposed a bookmobile, a fully serviced branch and a reading room as options. 

The chosen option for a hybrid-style library includes multiple pop-up services, such as book vending machines, book drops, pop-up libraries — where people can download e-books — and a cargo van, which will bring books into I.V. and deliver them to people who have placed books on hold. The van, which is planned to operate for 40 hours each week, could also hold programming and host events either outside or at available spaces throughout I.V. 

“This is a great option because it’s actually offering personal library service. It’s like catered library service [for] people so they’d be getting the best individual service of anyone in our community,” Gray said.

Another benefit of the hybrid option is its affordability, according to Gray. Assemblymember Monique Limón, who represents the 37th district that includes parts of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, secured $200,000 for library services in I.V. through state funding, which would more than cover the $154,196 needed for the hybrid option. 

The Isla Vista Community Services District (I.V. CSD) offered space for a Reading Room — a quiet space to read or study —  through the I.V. Community Room and the I.V. Community Center, in addition to the hybrid library option in a letter sent to the Goleta City Council on April 6. 

Although the timeline to implement the program has stalled due to the coronavirus pandemic, I.V. CSD Board President Spencer Brandt said he’s hopeful that the program will be ready to kick off when California’s stay-at-home order is lifted.

“This is a huge step forward. Isla Vista has never had its own library, however, we pay $200,000 worth of taxes for a local library every year,” Brandt said.“I’m really glad that we are set to have a physical location.”

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