On Dec. 23, U.S. Rep Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara) announced that $16.5 million in direct federal funding would be used to support various community projects in Santa Barbara County. One of these is to secure a permanent facility for the Orcutt Branch Library, which rents its current space.
“We’re excited for the county and seeing this project move forward. We’re looking forward to continuing to work with them on it,” Dawn Jackson, library director for the city of Santa Maria, said. “We’re appreciative to the county for their efforts.”
The Orcutt Branch Library is one of five library sites operated by the Santa Maria Public Library, which plans to use the funding to purchase a new facility in Orcutt, and in turn, increase on-site programming, including family and youth-geared events, Jackson said.
“The goal is always to be able to increase programs,” said Jackson, who has worked for the Santa Maria Public Library in multiple roles since 2013 and became library director in 2022.
Jackson said that finding a new Orcutt facility has been a goal of the library for a couple of years now.
“There’s a growing population in Orcutt, and the Orcutt Library, although a very nice facility, is a little small for the growing population’s needs,” said Jackson, who added that the library wants to move its Orcutt branch to a permanent facility rather than rent again, as “it’s much preferable to have an owned space for funding purposes.”
Jackson thanked county 4th District Supervisor Bob Nelson for working with Carbajal and the county to secure the new funding for the Orcutt Branch Library.
“Bob Nelson has been really championing this project and has been working with us, as well as the Friends of the Orcutt Library, on this project,” Jackson said. “He’s been really instrumental in moving this forward.”
The next step is to select a site for the new facility, Jackson said, which has not yet been determined.
“We need to work with the county to try to find a suitable location,” Jackson said. “There are certain library standards that we try to follow for library service and how big a building should be to serve populations of various sizes.”
Jackson said the Santa Maria Public Library has a long-term goal of securing a permanent, city- or county-owned facility for its Guadalupe branch as well.
The Orcutt and Guadalupe branches currently rent their spaces, while the Cuyama branch’s building is county-owned, and the Los Alamos branch leases its building through an arrangement with the Orcutt Union High School District.
“For Los Alamos, currently our focus is to expand operating hours and hire more staff to do that,” Jackson said, while commenting on additional goals the city of Santa Maria Public Library has for 2023. “We also have been increasing programming at the Cuyama location; look for more of that in the coming year as well.”