Santa Ana residents will temporarily lose access to the main civic center library as it goes under renovation in 2024.
Yet that might actually give residents living in further-flung parts of the city more library access than they’ve ever had.
In fact, the temporary closure might drive a permanent change elsewhere to Santa Ana’s library system as officials also plan to scatter its services throughout town, with an outdoor library planned at Jerome Park, for instance, as well as youth programs out of the Garfield and El Salvador community centers next year.
This month, officials announced that more than 2,400 square feet of publicly-run library space is coming to the Delhi Neighborhood in the city’s south end, a part of town with historically minimal access and no physical library locations.
To fill the service gaps left by the 2024 closure, officials plan to “reimagine” the Delhi neighborhood’s nonprofit Delhi Center into “a new, innovative public library experience,” with possible STEM and robotics programs for neuro-divergent kids, tutoring for students, and “a wide variety of cutting-edge technology and computers for use in the library or at home.”
The plans are laid out in a report attached to a Dec. 6 meeting among city council members, who unanimously approved a 10-year lease that night with the Delhi Center nonprofit, which will get $3,550 in rent from the city with an annual 3% increase.
The idea is for the Delhi Center library to be a permanent extension of the city library system.
For a city with one of the youngest median ages of any other in the U.S., public library services usually comprise a smaller portion of Santa Ana’s large taxpayer budget. Where neighboring Anaheim has seven library branches, Santa Ana has two.
Santa Ana once had one of the worst library spending records in the state: $12.38 per resident on library services in 2012, according to state library data.
That number’s inched up to $15 per resident in the time since, according to the state’s latest available report from 2021.
It’s “been much needed” in the Delhi Neighborhood “for years,” said Councilmember David Penaloza before the vote.
The new library’s home – possibly a permanent one – serves not only the surrounding neighborhood, but the entire south end of the city, said Mayor Vicente Sarmiento during the discussion.
“It will now serve as an additional source of gathering, not just for the community but also for kids and families,” Sarmiento said. “I can’t tell you how excited some of the people in that part of town are, because we had spoken about this in the past.”
And in the meantime, at least until renovations begin, the city’s existing two locations are expanding their open times.
Starting Jan. 9, the Main Library’s new hours will be 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
The Newhope library’s weekday hours won’t change, but its new Friday and Saturday hours will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
By the time the main library closes, the goal’s to have “pop-up” libraries scattered throughout town, said Penaloza, who added, “I’m sure there will be a presentation on that soon from the library department.”