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IRVINE | Community News Focus

City Library Secession Discouraged

June 11, 1996|RUSS LOAR

Council members will get a preview tonight of a report on the county library system that recommends against the withdrawal of the city's two libraries.

The report, commissioned by the Orange County City Managers Assn. library task force, was reviewed by city managers last week in a closed-door meeting and will be made public Thursday at the Orange County League of Cities meeting in Costa Mesa.

"This is going to stir up a significant amount of controversy," Irvine Councilman Greg Smith said of the report.

"It is doing our citizens a real disservice for this group to take a position that forces us to stay with a potentially sinking ship," Smith said.

Irvine's secession would require the approval of the county Board of Supervisors.

The City Council has commissioned its own feasibility study of pulling out of the county library system, to be reviewed next month.

Irvine contributes $2.8 million a year to the system, more than any other city. Smith said the level of services at local libraries is not acceptable, considering the city's financial contribution.

But City Manager Paul Brady, who will summarize the report for council members tonight, said the cost of running a city library system could exceed the city's current costs.

"Under existing state library law, there's no guarantee that we would get all or any of our $2.8 million back from the county," Brady said. "Even if we did get our assets back, we would still have to spend more money to make our own system work, because there's no economy of scale."

Smith said a citywide library system formed with local school and community college districts could operate in more efficient and innovative ways that were not considered in the task force report.

Said Smith: "I don't think enough attention has been paid to the alternatives."

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