Santa Clarita Public Library to upgrade materials thanks to budget increase

FILE PHOTO: Jake Lara, 7, looks through books at the Old Town Newhall Library on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

Visitors of the Santa Clarita Public Library could soon notice big upgrades on shelves after the City Council’s approval Tuesday to increase its materials budget to $1 million annually, the highest since its establishment.

The library, created in 2011 and made up of three branches, has regularly received anywhere between $750,000 to $800,000 for books and materials every fiscal year, including for the 2019-20 budget as initially proposed. 

But after Tuesday’s unanimous approval, the city library’s collections budget was increased by $200,000 “to better meet the needs of the community and to compensate for decreased purchasing power due to accumulated inflation,” according to the city staff report. 

“This is a big step up to upgrade outdated materials and get us closer at the level that everyone else is,” said city Librarian Shannon Vonnegut. 

Cities such as Burbank, Santa Monica and Thousand Oaks have typically averaged budgets on materials anywhere between $1.3 million and $1.4 million, something the Santa Clarita Library has observed and aimed to reach. 

“We’ve visited those benchmark cities and see how much they’re spending on collections,” said Vonnegut. “We look at their budgets and most cities are over $1 million. We have a community of readers here in Santa Clarita so we try to meet the needs of the public.” 

With an increased budget, Vonnegut said a big focus is on updating the children’s area, as a large percentage of material is about seven or eight years old. Growing its electronic database, such as audiobooks, is also planned. 

“It’s completely OK to have older books, anything from the county or historical books, but we need materials that reflect more relevant and changing topics,” she said. 

The City Council’s decision Tuesday awarded expenditure authority to six vendors, including Baker & Taylor, EBSCO Industries and Brodart Co., that supply everything from books to music products and research databases. 

Also approved Tuesday: 

New budget

Santa Clarita is in good fiscal shape with a newly adopted budget of $225.9 million, City Manager Ken Striplin presented to council members for final approval Tuesday. 

The 2019-20 total represents an 11% increase, or $23 million, over the previous budget. The general fund was presented at $114 million of total revenues, $37 million in sales tax and an operating reserve of $17.6 million. 

A total of $36.7 million is designated to cover capital improvement projects including portions of several projects such as the new Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, Canyon Country Community Center, Sand Canyon trail and annual highway safety improvements.  

Water factory regulation enforcement

An ordinance to establish and enforce regulations relating to the sale and use of the Vista Canyon development’s self-contained recycled water factory passed for a second reading. 

“Incorporating these regulations is necessary to allow the city to enter into a wholesale agreement with the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency to sell this recycled water for commercial uses,” reads the city agenda report. 

When operational, the facility will produce approximately 400 acre-feet per year of recycled water, which will be used for onsite irrigation and offsite landscape for adjacent communities like Fair Oaks Ranch, according to Kevin Tononian, the city’s special districts manager.

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