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
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
For the Friends of the Palo Alto Libraries Board,
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.