Carpinteria City Council has initiated the multi-year process to transition management of the Carpinteria branch library to the city of Carpinteria. After decades of management by the city of Santa Barbara, a governance shift is expected to improve financial transparency and local control, among other benefits.
Library consultants MJ Gomez and Associates conducted a six-month analysis of options for governance and operations of the Carpinteria and Montecito libraries and presented findings at the Sept. 14 City Council meeting. The consultants recommended that Carpinteria form a new zone in the Santa Barbara County library structure and include Montecito in that zone. Goleta successfully implemented a similar plan in recent years, and will serve as a model for Carpinteria and Montecito’s transition out of its current zone, which includes the Santa Barbara Central Library and the Eastside Library.
Sharply rising administrative costs have challenged the Carpinteria branch in the last five years. Traditionally, the county of Santa Barbara provided most of the library’s funding, but in recent years, county funding increases have been far outpaced by steeply rising expenses. Friends of the Carpinteria Library, in response, has shifted its support from library improvements to basic operational costs. The city of Carpinteria’s financial support of the library also increased dramatically, and most recently, large funding gaps have been filled by revenues from Measure X, a city-sales tax increase that voters approved with the understanding that the library would be a beneficiary.
The cost of operating a new library zone with Montecito is expected to be similar to current costs. Montecito’s library operates with limited hours and its major funding is now from its Friends group. Library consultants recommend that Montecito secure a dedicated revenue stream that would allow it to expand its services.
The complex process to create a municipal library could be complete by the summer of 2022. Part of that process will be to gather community input for the library’s future and develop a plan for realizing that vision.