Here are some major differences between Salinas and Pomona:
- More libraries in the community. Salinas had three libraries in the community, with the main library built as part of the 1950's era civic center, one assumed when the city annexed unincorporated land, and one built as a result of population growth in the 1960's. When Pomona built its civic center, they built one large library, but never created branch libraries. Even in the boom times of the 1970's, Pomona did not develop branch libraries.
- Lack of connection to the local library. Many people in Phillips Ranch and North Pomona are closer to County libraries. The County libraries are much smaller, but offer a similar set of popular reading material and more importantly offer access to the entire County system, with many times more books than one individual library can. Interlibrary loan is generally clunky and expensive, so the advantage of placing a hold, for free, from the County system is a benefit for the savvy reader.
- Salinas is the only game in town. In addition to the County libraries, Ontario has always had a deep collection - the best in the Inland Valley, even 15 years ago, and I went on trips with a friend's parents who consciously avoided Pomona to go to Ontario. Ontario had a large AV collection, and was open until 9 pm - Pomona always closed at 8, even pre-budget crisis, and its AV collection was modest (and gutted in the early 2000's to be replaced with the computer lab). And Ontario is only six miles away. In contrast, the nearest big library to Salinas is Monterey, 18 miles away.
- More local flavor. Salinas had John Steinbeck, and hosted the National Steinbeck Center. Pomona has some local authors but none with the international renown. It also is why Salinas got national attention immediately, while even Los Angeles media has been slow to pick up on the story.
- We're inured to budget brinksmanship. With school districts issuing pink slips every year, only to be rescinded, and government agencies announcing cuts "to the bone" that ultimately have no impact on the average resident, it numbs the public. When Salinas proposed closure, it was unique.
One thing is for certain - the horses to save the library will not be coming from outside the community. Later we'll look at another key difference with Salinas - our city leader's refusal to seek additional revenue, and even oppose community-led efforts to generate funds.