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Library Services in Orcutt

Update on Plans for New Building & Comparing

Local Library Services with Other Libraries in

Santa Barbara County

 

  In the spring of 2020, the results of an Ad Hoc Committee, commissioned by the Santa Barbara County Library Advisory Committee, were presented to the County Board of Supervisors. The findings said the Orcutt library, compared with smaller and medium sized libraries such as Guadalupe, Los Alamos, Buellton, Cuyama, Montecito and Carpinteria, was deficient in almost all the standards. Criteria included: the number of staff for a local library, the number of staff hours per week, amount of collections in the library, amount of programs, outreach, technology and facilities.

  Orcutt has the largest population base of those presented in the report. 

According to Carol Gregor, who serves on the Santa Barbara County Library Advisory Committee and is vice president of the Friends of the Orcutt Library, the local library is severely limited as to the services it can provide. “There have been many times we have had to step back programs and offerings because the library can only accommodate a total of 98 children, adults, and staff. We are severely limited with what we can offer the community.” 

  The report was compiled by the Legacy Group, a Santa Barbara Consultant firm and commissioned by the Santa Barbara County Library Advisory Committee. As a result of that study, the Library Advisory Committee established an Ad Hoc group consisting of representatives of the four library zones in the County to develop targets based on data from surrounding counties with libraries of comparable size, small, medium, and large. The Orcutt library is considered medium sized.

  According to Gregor, a major objective is to ensure the targets are applied equally to each library. The Orcutt library is currently open 36 hours per week with 70 hours of staff time. The target is 42 hours a week with a professional librarian and two paid staff. The targets specified are increases in community outreach and enhancement of early childhood literacy, youth summer reading and expanded school age and adult programs.

  The expected annual increase needed to meet those minimum standards for the Orcutt Branch library was $220,583, significantly higher than needed by the other branch libraries in the report.

  The County of Santa Barbara funds the Orcutt Library, which is operated by the City of Santa Maria. The Friends of the Orcutt Library also help fund the Orcutt Library’s operations, but this is not sustainable. Gregor says the Board of Supervisors, especially Fourth District Supervisor Bob Nelson, has been extremely supportive in efforts to meet targets established by the Ad Hoc Committee and County Library Board.

  Over the years the library has been located in several rented locations, including space next to. Oak Knolls Hardware in the Oak Knolls shopping center, and for the past ten years, has been in a rented location in Orcutt Plaza in Old Town Orcutt. Rental cost to the County is $10,000 monthly.

According to Nelson, finding a new location for the Orcutt Branch library is a “top priority.” He added, “It’s something my office works on each day, and with the help of our friends at the library, community members and elected leaders, we are coming close to solidifying a permanent location for a community center that will serve as a hub for all children, residents and families.”

With the help of the Orcutt Friends of the Library, the Supervisors have authorized RRM Architectural Design of Santa Barbara to identify the local library’s needs and to look at three proposed sites for a new library. Gregor says the current library in the Orcutt Plaza is about 4500 square feet. The proposal for the new library is 19,000 square feet.

  Thanks to private donations, efforts led by Supervisor Nelson that equated to contributions by the County, plus two million dollars from the federal budget passed by Congress in December of2022, there is about $5,000,000 set aside for a new library in Orcutt.

  The locations of the proposed sites have not been publicly announced.

Steve Southwick reporting

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