Salinas, Calif., approves new funding for library services

Contact: Larra Clark

ALA Media Relations


For Immediate Release

November 9, 2005

Salinas, Calif., approves new funding for library services

(CHICAGO) Voters in John Steinbeck's hometown of Salinas, Calif., voted by more than 60 percent to raise a half-cent tax to fund libraries and other essential city services. With a slogan of "Measure V for Vital City Services," almost 9,000 voters helped to pass the referenda. It is estimated that the tax will raise about $11 million per year over the next 10 years to restore library services, as well as fund parks and recreation and more police officers.

"Be proud of the fact that we have saved our libraries, which we know are the cornerstone of our democracy," Salinas Mayor Anna Caballero was quoted as saying in The Salinas Californian.

The nation was stunned this time last year to learn that Salinas' three libraries would close in the wake of an $8 million deficit. In 2003 alone, there were more than 450,000 visits to Salinas' libraries and 528,685 items checked out. Several local fundraising efforts sprang up in response, raising enough funds to keep the libraries open about 33 hours per week in recent months. Contributions topped $800,000 over nine months, and while donations came primarily from local residents and businesses, funds also were received from 20 states, Canada and Luxembourg.

In February 2005, a delegation of national and state library leaders traveled to Salinas to survey the situation and share technical assistance, advice and information from around the country and the state to support Salinas in its effort to rally for and sustain locally library services. The American Library Association (ALA) also conducted a national media outreach campaign to highlight the situation and raise awareness of library funding issues nationwide.

"We applaud the efforts of the citizens and elected officials of Salinas to rally behind the library and we send our warm congratulations on their success," said ALA President Michael Gorman, who led the February delegation. "An investment in libraries is an investment in education and lifelong learning that will pay great dividends for Salinas."

The California Library Association (CLA) named Dennis Donohue, a member of the Friends of the Salinas Public Library, as the recipient of the 2005 President's Award for his work on behalf of the library. The award recognizes outstanding contributions, leadership and achievement in support of California libraries. CLA President Danis Kreimeier, who also was a member of the February delegation, presented the award to Donohue November 5 at the association's annual conference.

Despite growing library use and circulation nationwide, library funding cuts reported in media accounts have reached at least $154.2 million in the past two years. Almost 1.3 billion people visit libraries every year, and check out almost 2 billion books, CDs, DVDs and more.

For additional information and tools to support America's libraries, please visit the ALA home page at and click on "Issues and Advocacy."