California City of Colton Closes Library Indefinitely (Updated)
Citywide layoffs may be brinksmanship; ALA denounces decision
Norman Oder -- Library Journal, 11/13/2009
- Newspaper report: libraries closed for rest of fiscal year
- Library message: libraries closed "until further notice"
- ALA president criticizes decision
Updated November 18: American Library Association (ALA) President Camila Alire issued a statement: "How can Colton combat the recession if its leaders take away free access to employment resources? Libraries are the key to getting Americans back on their feet by serving the needs of a growing number of job seekers... I encourage the citizens of Colton to contact their local leadership to express their opposition to the closures, and urge City Manager Bob Miller to reconsider the closures of Colton’s libraries.”
Unable to gain concessions from unionized city employees, the small city of Colton, CA, sent nearly 60 employees layoff notices and closed the city’s three library facilities indefinitely as of today. (Colton, which has about 50,000 people, is located less than three miles from San Bernardino; housing values have dropped 40% in a year.)
While the Contra Costa Times reported that the Colton Public Library—consisting of two libraries and a homework center—would be closed for the rest of the fiscal year (meaning June 30, 2010), the situation may not be that drastic.
Interim City Manager Bob Miller, whose request for a 15 percent pay cut from employee unions had been rebuffed, said the unions could respond with their final offer by November 17, the newspaper reported. While the city has a $5 million deficit, the layoffs and closings would save only $4 million.
Callers to the library receive the following message: “Due to recent budget cuts, all library facilities have been closed until further notice. Materials may be returned in the return slots located at each facility. We hope to reopen the libraries as soon as possible.”
[Here's coverage of the local reaction: dismay, plus hope that one library might open.]