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Pomona and Rancho Cucamonga library directors to meet

June 27, 2012 |  1:07 pm

Pomona's only public library is likely to close this summer due to the city's budget deficit.

Two library directors are scheduled to meet Wednesday to discuss how to keep the Pomona Public Library from closing.

Pomona library employees were told this month the Garey Avenue institution would close Aug. 15 because of the city’s budget woes. Officials have been desperate to trim the city’s $78.5-million general fund budget and the library was put on the chopping block.

“There’s just not a lot of fat to cut anymore,” Pomona library director Bruce Guter said. “We’re desperate to find some way of avoiding closing but it’s simply a matter of the dollars.”

Guter is scheduled to meet with Robert Karatsu, who oversees the Rancho Cucamonga libraries. While Pomona’s library operates just 26 hours a week with a budget of $1.6 million, their neighbor runs two branches for 101 hours at $3.9 million.

“What we’re going to do is just look at their budget and work with their staff to see if perhaps there were some things that could possibly be done so that they could keep their library open,” Karatsu said.

Although Pomona’s city manager mentioned a proposal for its library to be run by Rancho Cucamonga, Karatsu said that was never the plan. 

“I’m not sure how it got misconstrued,” he said. “As a neighboring jurisdiction we wanted to see if there is something we can do to try to help them.... It’s something that libraries do, we help people.”

Pomona’s library troubles have struck a chord in the community and dozens of residents turned out for Monday’s City Council meeting, which ran into the morning hours.

Many in the city of 150,000 lament the possible loss of a place that offers free computer hours and a children’s summer reading program, and has a collection of Laura Ingalls Wilder letters and manuscripts. According to Guter, the library has 78,000 active borrowers.

“Pomona’s not great resource-wise,” said Ishmael Chavez, 22, who takes his daughter to the weekly story hour. “You’d think a library would be the worst thing to remove.”


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Photo: Pomona's only public library is likely to close this summer due to the city's budget deficit. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times