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Letter to the City Council re: Terman Library

March 5, 2003

Dear Mayor Mossar and Councilmembers;

The Board of Directors of Friends of Palo Alto Libraries (FOPAL) is concerned that the Library Advisory Commission and perhaps some others will recommend closing branch libraries as a means of partly bridging our current budget shortfall.  It appears that Terman Library will be the first recommended for closure. We believe this is undesirable and in fact will be counter-productive.  The community has repeatedly supported our present 6-branch system.  The recent Measure D bond election showed over 61% of voters wanted to increase their property taxes in order to improve and expand libraries, not close them.  We believe the community would prefer reduced services and hours to loss of branch libraries.

The recent decision by the School Board to reduce new library and library book funding makes retention of the Terman Park library even more important. There are many offsetting benefits from keeping Terman open that should be considered. When the site reopens as a middle school, the Terman Library and adjacent wing could serve as a joint city-school district library facility and a teen gathering place, smaller in scale but similar in concept to the proposed city-school district library facility at Gunn.  Such a teen facility could serve not only Terman students but also Juana Briones students who are just a short walk away from Terman.  A Terman facility also will take some of the pressure off of Mitchell Park library and teen center.

Retaining Terman Library also reduces the need for nearby residents to travel farther to other branches.  Students will not be forced to drive or bike along busy streets such as Arastradero and Charleston to reach another library, greatly increasing their exposure to traffic and requiring passage over Alma and the railroad tracks, both significant safety hazards.

We also are concerned about the adverse impact that closure of the Terman Park library will have on FOPAL.  We use space in Wing 20 to receive, sort, and sell books, and to provide operating facilities for our many volunteers.  The temporary building at Cubberley is far smaller than our previous space at Terman and will not support the levels of service that were available at Terman.  We expect this smaller Cubberley space to result in a significant reduction in our book sales and ability to raise funds. Closing Terman was justified as saving about $65,000/year, but this overlooks offsetting benefits. Book sales revenues would be reduced by  $25,000 to $30,000/year from loss of Terman facilities.   FOPAL depends upon the space at Terman to operate effectively. Loss of this space will greatly decrease our ability to receive, sort, process and sell books. Last year FOPAL donated $199,924 to Palo Alto libraries. Most of the proceeds of our sales are contributed to Palo Alto libraries in cash grants.  Potential loss of FOPAL fundraising from Terman should be offset against savings from closing the library.

Closure of Terman Library could be seen as a step towards attempting to close other branch libraries.  This proposal was soundly defeated 5 years ago.  Why revisit it?

We believe the benefits from keeping Terman open far exceed any money that may be saved from closing this branch, particularly when any savings are offset by loss of FOPAL revenue.  As noted above, there are added benefits to students and to the nearby neighborhoods.  Please help to support the activities and contributions of FOPAL and our hundreds of volunteers. Keep the city's commitment to the residents of south and west Palo Alto.  It will benefit the entire community.

For the Friends of the Palo Alto Libraries Board,

Ellen Wyman
Friends of the Palo Alto Library

Please tell the Palo Alto City Council how you feel about the Terman Library.

You can e-mail them, fax them at (650) 328-3631, or write to City Council, 250 Hamilton Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94301.

Friends of the Palo Alto Library (FOPAL) is a non-profit 501(c)3 public benefit corporation, dedicated to helping Palo Alto's Public Libraries.  Contact us at info@friendspaloaltolib.org or PO Box 41, Palo Alto, CA 94302-0041.  Privacy Policy

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