Struggling with the prospect of closing seven libraries, Ventura County's ailing 16-branch system is asking for approval to solicit donations from county property owners through tax bills for the third straight year.
If approved, the Library Services Agency will include request forms in tax bills mailed to more than 200,000 property owners in the fall, officials said. The Board of Supervisors will consider the request at its Tuesday meeting.
The library agency hopes to raise at least $10,000 in donations to purchase new books, library official Patricia Cavanaugh said. The system has been hit so hard by cutbacks in recent years, Cavanaugh said, that it has no book budget.
This would be the third year that the agency has sought contributions in this manner. In 1993, the first year of the program, the agency collected $15,665, Cavanaugh said. Last year, it raised $10,195, with all of the money going to buy new books.
The Library Services Agency has lost nearly 50% of its funding over the last five years because of state budget cuts. The county has chipped in $2.4 million over the last two years, but because of its own financial troubles, it will be able to contribute only half of the $1.6 million that the library agency needs this year, officials said.
Consequently, library officials said they will have no choice but to close seven branches.