CALABASAS, CA, January 28, 1999 -- When first incorporated in 1991, the City of Calabasas offered its residents public library services from a 400 sq. ft. room in City Hall and a part-time bookmobile. Four years later, the library moved to a 1,500 sq. ft. storefront. In February, it will return to City Hall but to space ten times the size of its original home. And if all goes as planned, the library will eventually have its own 15,000 sq. ft. dedicated building.
According to Robin Parker, Calabasas City Clerk, ‘The new location will give much needed space, with separate rooms for computers and access to the Internet, periodicals, children's story-telling and meetings. We'll also have better lighting and more storage and original artwork for our walls, on loan through the Calabasas Arts Council."
The library is scheduled to move January 30th out of leased space at the Parkway Calabasas Shopping Center into leased space in the same building as municipal offices. It plans to re-open February 9th. The move will be supervised by Library Systems & Services (LSSI), which has managed and staffed the library since July 1998. The City of Calabasas awarded LSSI its library management contract after withdrawing from the Los Angeles County Public Library (LACPL) system, an option allowed by legislation passed in the California State Senate in 1995. LSSI has also managed the 24-branch Riverside County Public Library, since July 1997. In both Riverside County and Calabasas. the local governing bodies of the libraries have retained full policy making authority and ownership of all library assets.
"In 1997 we paid $530,000 to LACPL for library services, but we received only $240,000 in services in return," says Parker. in explaining the City Council's unanimous decision last year to award a three-year library management contract to LSSI. ‘in the first year of our contract with LSSI, we are paying less for far more services and, for the first time, we have complete control over all policies governing library operations. The library is open more hours and more days each week. We have an entirely new collection of 14,000 titles and a new state-of-the-art Windows-based library automation system, both of which the City of Calabasas owns. Plus, our patrons can access our entire collection and over 1,000 full-text periodicals, via the Internet, from either the library or their homes." Calabasas Public Library is also now part of the Metropolitan Cooperative Library System, giving residents access to library materials from more than 80 other public libraries without having to pay non-resident fees.
"It is wonderful to see the rapid growth in this library and the renewed enthusiasm and support for library services from the people of Calabasas," said Gordon Conable, LSSI's administrator for the Calabasas Public Library. "The City decided that it just couldn't wait for the projected permanent facility and that immediate expansion was necessary. As a result, user space will be greatly enhanced, with five times the seating capacity and much better programming space for kids and families. In twenty-five years as a public librarian, I've rarely seen this level of local support for improving a library."
LSSI is the largest provider of contracted library management services in the U.S. Founded by professional librarians in 1981, it is now a major employer of librarians working in public, school, federal and corporate libraries around the country. Its headquarters are in Germantown, MD.