By Victoria Martinez
Administrative changes — including more funding — are on the horizon for the public libraries in Buellton and Solvang.
The Solvang City Council agreed April 9 to explore whether the Solvang branch library should be administered from Goleta or Santa Maria after the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors approved a reorganization of the county library system on April 3.
“There’s been a consistent frustration with the city of Santa Barbara and running Zone 1, and the charges we get as being a part of that zone,” City Manager Brad Vidro said during the council meeting.
For years, the Solvang Library has been in the county library system’s Zone 1, operated from Santa Barbara. The system is operated through a four-way agreement between the county and the cities of Santa Barbara, Lompoc and Santa Maria. All of the branches in incorporated cities receive additional funding from those cities.
On April 3, the Board of Supervisors created a Zone 4, which will be run by Goleta and would incorporate the operation of the Solvang and Buellton libraries within the year.
Valley representatives on the county’s Library Advisory Committee and members of the Solvang City Council want to examine more closely which zone would make the most sense for the valley’s libraries.
Instead of moving to the new Zone 4, an option would be for the Solvang and Buellton libraries to be moved into Zone 3, which is operated by Santa Maria.
“Geographically it makes a lot more sense,” said Shirley Stacey, Solvang’s representative on the Library Advisory Committee, about the Santa Maria zone, which already includes Los Alamos.
Both Stacey and 3rd District Library Advisory Committee representative Judith Dale explained that the Board of Supervisors’ reorganization also included some funding changes to the library system that will greatly benefit the valley’s libraries.
The board voted to implement a 20 percent cap for administrative fees that will pertain only to the per capita funding provided by the county.
The administrating library for each zone can no longer charge an administrative fee for funding provided by individual cities, donations received, and funds provided by Friends of the Library groups.
Both Solvang and Buellton expect to save thousands of dollars due to the cap and limitations of the fees.
“It’s a good day for libraries,” Dale said.
In addition, 5 percent of all libraries’ per capita funding will go to the 17-member Library Advisory Committee to distribute to libraries in need.
“The last Board of Supervisors meeting was an absolute positive step, especially for libraries in Zone 1,” Dale said.
Dale noted that the supervisors hold the final decision about where to place the valley’s libraries for administration, but she believes the board will listen closely to recommendations made by the city.
She also emphasized the importance of Solvang and Buellton remaining in the same zone.
“I would implore you … to work closely with the city of Buellton to keep Buellton and Solvang in the same zone,” Dale said. “The new arrangement we have, with co-op with each other on projects, programs, hours that we are open or closed, have been unbelievably successful.”
Until recently, the Buellton Library had been operated from Lompoc.
For more information about Santa Barbara County’s libraries, go to www.santabarbaraca.gov/gov/depts/lib/default.asp.
For more information on supporting libraries throughout the valley, visit friendssyvlibrary.org.