Topanga Canyon Library: Not Just Another Pipe Dream

In an age of library closings and cuts, here's some good news: a brand new library for Topanga Canyon, CA. Story from Huffington Post.

The two women who spear-headed this decade-long -- and yes, it was well over a decade -- quest were themselves fifteen and eighteen year residents of Topanga, moms of kids in the Topanga elementary school, all of whom used to visit the weekly Las Virgenes Bookmobile. One of the mom's, Cynthia Scott, became a volunteer, and she -- inspired by her kids -- started gathering petitions about getting a library. She now works for County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, the third crucial element in this triad of a deal.

The second mom, Adriane Allan, was a library science student who got a Masters in Library Science from UCLA. In 2001, she had been working on a paper about the importance of libraries to their communities, and something sparked. She called Supervisor Yaroslavsky's office, where they were -- quite understandably -- a tad discouraging. Nevertheless, she started to gather all kinds of information for her paper. What would it take to build a library in Topanga?? Names, facts, feasibility studies... The figures were discouraging, to say the least, but she wanted to finish her paper!! (This woman is now a Santa Monica Children's Librarian, bless her heart.)

The article's author Jodi Lampert adds...go kiss your librarian, today!!


Since you lead with that, I'll repeat the question I've asked elsewhere (with no results): Do you--does anyone--have any actual data on actual library system closings? Not branches, not temporary shutdowns, but public libraries that actually disappear--or, let's say, shut down for at least three years?

Has it been 1% over the last 10 years? 0.5%? 0.1%?

Have there been more public libraries (again, not branches--those are inherently more temporary) closed or opened over the last decade?

Or do we just conveniently talk about lots of library closures, despite lack of any real evidence that this is happening? I'm not trying to minimize the effects of branch "closures" or reduced hours, but I'd sure like to see some facts...

I will tell you that the piece I did last year was about the Library closing in Los Angeles, at that time, on Monday's. It was the first time in 80 years that the Downtown branch had been shut down. Now, this has been rectified, but I wonder if anyone has that answer... the library closing on Monday really did affect my life. The personal IS political, as we say.


Jodi Lampert


Sorry if the lead off was inexact, I DON'T have any data on library closings, but it certainly seems to be all over the news. When you find out the exact data (or an approximation), please let us know! I simply wanted to reflect what seems to be a trend (inexact, and I know you librarians won't stand for that sort of thing) and contrast it with the wonderful story of a NEW library in a town that never had one.


I'm not a librarian--but what I've found, other than the lack of such numbers, is very few --very very few -- actual instances of this "trend," but it certainly does show up a lot as an assumed reality.

A new library is great, and I have seen a few more of these in the past decade--more, possibly, than actual long-term closings (note "long-term": Public libraries that shut down tend to come back pretty quickly, unless the town itself is disappearing).

So I was hoping you might be aware of a data source I wasn't aware of. At this point, I'd be astonished if even 1% of actual libraries (not just branches) have closed in the past decade--of course, that would be 90 libraries, which would be an awful lot.

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