September 20, 2021 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Santa Monica Public Library Reopens for In-Person Service Soon

June 1 reopening for Santa Monica Public Library Main Library

By Sam Catanzaro

The Santa Monica Public Library’s main branch is set to reopen while an automated self-service model is coming to the Ocean Park branch.

The City of Santa Monica announced last weekend that on Tuesday, June 1, 2021, the Santa Monica Public Library Main Library at 601 Santa Monica Boulevard, will reopen for limited in-person service. Services include in-person browsing of the first-floor, checking out items, holds pick-up, public computer use (30 minutes per person), printing and “brief” in-person interaction with staff.

According to the City, “library spaces were reconfigured to provide safe and welcoming environments while aligning the Library with the best practices of public libraries throughout California and the rest of the country.”

In addition, the Ocean Park branch library’s collection will soon be available to the public. This spring the Santa Monica Public Library was selected to participate in a grant provided by the California State Library in partnership with Bibliotheca, LLC. The grant will allow for new technology to be installed at the Ocean Park Branch Library to expand access to the library collection to Santa Monicans through a self-service model.  

The program comes as the City is facing a budget deficit brought on a pandemic-related revenue loss and unfunded pension liabilities. As part of over $200 million in budget cuts last year, the public library system lost $4.5 million in funding, 65 members of the library staff were lost their jobs under the cuts while the Fairview and Ocean Park branches were closed temporarily.

The Ocean Park Branch Library will be the sole Santa Monica location equipped with the technology. According to the City, this technology has been used throughout Europe for years as well as in the Ventura County Library system, and will soon be used by nine other libraries through a grant provided by the California State Library.

The system will operate via self-service model providing controlled access to the library and security cameras. According to the City, video will be retained for a minimum of 30 days and stored locally through with the security standards that will be made clear to all patrons who sign the agreement to participate in the program.

“Through the use of access controlled doors and automated people counting at the entrances, the system will be able to control how many occupants are allowed in the library at a given time for browsing the collection, computers and printing, and using the existing self-checkouts. Safety is of utmost importance for this service and will require that patrons who opt into the program sign an agreement that includes acceptance of the agreement and recording through the security cameras in alignment with requirements by the City, how to report any emergencies and setting expectations about the limited staffing model of Ocean Park’s Self-Service Hours,” said Principal Librarian Greco Venegas.

Curbside Pickup Service will continue at the Montana Avenue Branch and Pico Branch Libraries throughout the summer. 

For more information on hours and services offered at each Santa Monica Public Library location, please visit smpl.org/reopening.  

When visiting the Library, patrons must maintain a 6-foot physical distance, wear a face mask over mouth and nose at all time and stay home if feeling sick.

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