Budget Proposal Recommends Closing College Terrace Library

Yesterday, City of Palo Alto staff released a report proposing solutions for the anticipated budget shortfall caused by the pandemic. Among the many options listed is closing the College Terrace Library. From Attachment 1, Exhibit 1 Page 9:

This action closes the College Terrace Library branch. The College Terrace Library served approximately 52,000 visitors in FY 2019 (about 5% of all Library visits for the year) and hosted 40 events. This action includes a reduce of full-time and part-time staff resources.


The document notes that closing the College Terrace Library would save the City $167,550 in FY 2021. Other library-related cuts include eliminating a variety of positions, reducing hours at Children’s and Rinconada libraries, and reducing the library’s materials acquisition budget (i.e., fewer new books).

Built in 1936, and fully renovated in 2010, the College Terrace Library is the oldest of the Palo Alto library system’s five branch libraries and, in addition to its collection of books and magazines, offers free WiFi, four computer terminals, a comfortable reading room, and a wonderful children’s room with weekly storytimes.

The City Council will be discussing this and other potential budget cuts on Monday night at 6:45pm. The meeting will be conducted online via Zoom (see here for connection instructions, including how to comment publicly) and streamed via YouTube. Residents can voice their concerns ahead of time by emailing the City Council at city.council@cityofpaloalto.org.

Councilmember (and College Terrace resident) Greg Tanaka will also be holding office hours this Sunday at 3:20pm to discuss this topic. Email william.xuan@gregtanaka.org if you are interested in attending.

The City is also inviting feedback on its budget priorities via an online survey. Residents are encouraged to fill out the survey before it closes on May 13.

On a personal note, our family has visited the College Terrace Library weekly since moving into the neighborhood almost fifteen years ago. It would be heartbreaking for us to lose this beautiful gem in the heart of our neighborhood. I encourage those who feel similarly to voice their concerns to the City Council as soon as possible.

8 thoughts on “Budget Proposal Recommends Closing College Terrace Library

  1. Rachel Lotan says:

    Please don’t! It is an essential resource. Our family –parents, children, grandchildren– has been visiting and loving this library for the past 40 years.

  2. Nancy McDonald Lowe says:

    I am completely against closing the College Terrace Library. How many times do we have to keep fighting someone/’s effort to close it? And how many times do we have to stand up and say “No!”?

  3. Jams Logan says:

    Before closing the library is seriously considered, there should be a 5% cut to houly wage employees and a 15 to 20% cut to those on salary. The maximum annual salary for all city workers including the city manager should be reduced to $275,000 and all perquisites should be eliminated. All contracts for “studies” and “planning” purposes should be terminated as soon as feasible; and all future plans for such contracts be eliminated. All future requirements for any required “study” or “plan” should be vested in residents of the city willing to perform the functions required.

  4. Joe Lee says:

    It is hard for seniors to take public buses during these difficult times to visit other libraries if CT library was closed! For $167,000 savings (tiny) there must be another way.

  5. Eileen Siva says:

    There are no libraries south of El Camino in this area for Palo Alto Residents to use. This is a gem of a library and with several preschools nearby, it serves a huge population of toddlers and children and youth.

  6. Sara says:

    This is supposed to be a family neighborhood – where am I now supposed to go with my toddler? This is infuriating!!!

  7. Carol Ruth says:

    We am writing to express my dismay at the prospect of closing the College Terrace Library. It is a vital source of books, media, community info as well as a cozy neighborhood gathering place that serves thousands of residents. The College Terrace library allows many of us to visit a library without going across El Camino Real and through downtown. Without this location, we will not be using the library nearly as much. It is bad enough that this library is only open several days a week, but to close it all together would be too much of a loss to the Palo Alto community on the west side of town. The amount saved in its closure would make little difference in the overall city budget.
    Thank you for reconsidering this proposal.
    Carol and Ron Ruth

  8. Joe Lee says:

    Maybe more residents can write a letter like this:

    Dear City Council members,

    I hope you will take another hard look this coming week at finding ways NOT to close the College Terrace library. It is an invaluable resource for the community who live on this part of town.

    • The next nearest library is 3.5 miles away, which makes it really difficult for senior citizens and children.

    • There is an oft-repeated assertion that College Terrace Library checkouts are only 5% of total, implying no-big-deal to close it. But per the library circulation data report, this doesn’t include online orders. This means that CT Library accounts for _far more_ than 5% when it comes to where books are picked up. Said another way, since the CT Library is small in terms of shelf space, many patrons request books or media online via the Palo Alto library website and then have them sent to the CT Library for pickup. This saves countless car trips across town.

    • Libraries, along with parks, “make” the feel and fabric of a town. With so many difficult things going on in the world at the moment, it sends the wrong message to close libraries. I’ve lived in Palo Alto for nearly 30 years, and I know that libraries are core to the identify of this town.

    • The expected savings, $167,000, is really small in the grand scheme of things.

    ALSO: Can I ask you to put up for serious discussion whether the $6.1 million (4.5%) salary increase for city employees can be pulled back a bit for the sake of shared sacrifice during this crisis? This is not out of the norm.

    Surely we can find $167,000 to keep College Terrace library, perhaps by forgoing the $6.1 million (4.5%) salary increase slated for July?

    Thank you,
    Joe Lee

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