Santa Barbara Public Library.
The Santa Barbara Public Library has announced plans to transition to an independent catalog system. It will no longer be a member of the Black Gold Library Cooperative system, which includes libraries in Goleta, Lompoc, Santa Maria, San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles and Santa Paula. (Noozhawk file photo)

The Santa Barbara Public Library announced Tuesday that it will be transitioning from the Black Gold Library Cooperative system to a new, independent catalog system in the 2023 fiscal year, effective July 1.

The Black Gold system, which is used to look up and borrow books, allowed the Santa Barbara Public Library to share books and materials with other Black Gold libraries, which include those in Goleta, Lompoc, Santa Maria, San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles and Santa Paula.

With the Santa Barbara Public Library not renewing its membership with the Black Gold Cooperative, these materials from other member libraries will no longer be available to Santa Barbara library patrons, but city public information officer Shelly Cone said the library will continue to build its collection.

“We have the funding to do that, so we are confident that we will be able to meet the needs of our patrons,” Cone said.

According to a release from the City of Santa Barbara, the change will improve statistical reporting, which will allow library staff to customize its collection to better suit the interests and needs of the community, as the current catalog system does not distinguish between books borrowed by local patrons and those loaned to other libraries. 

“Change was needed in order to provide the extent of services we wanted to offer our patrons, and our vision was at odds with the direction the other Black Gold Member Libraries wanted to take,” Library Director Jessica Cadiente said in the release.

Cone said there will be no loss of service to local library users and the biggest — if not only — change that patrons will notice is the lack of interlibrary loans.

“There are a lot of benefits to this — one of the biggest for us is the ability to be more inclusive with our collections,” Cone said. “It will provide a better experience for our unique community.”

In addition to being able to customize the library’s collection, the change will help the Santa Barbara Public Library better accommodate its Spanish-speaking users and provide a more convenient experience for these patrons, Cone added.

“We’re really excited about these changes. The Santa Barbara Public Library has been a strong advocate for these changes,” Cone said. “The change really means other libraries won’t have access to our physical books and our patrons won’t be able to access books from other libraries, but service for our patrons will only improve because we’ll invest what we paid to Black Gold into our libraries and collections.”

Cone also confirmed that Santa Barbara Public Library patrons still will have access to HooplaOverdrive and other digital programs that allow users to borrow e-books, audiobooks and other digital materials.

“Not renewing membership in Black Gold is in the best interest of Santa Barbara Public Library in terms of both costs and operational efficiency,” the library’s website states. “Costs will increase at least $78,000 due to SLO Library withdrawing from the Cooperative [if the Santa Barbara Public Library stays in the Black Gold Cooperative] … After San Luis Obispo, the Santa Barbara Public Library has the highest collection budget and purchases the most new print materials annually.”

In order to make the transition smoother, the library suspended the borrowing of materials from other member libraries this past week.

The City of Goleta sent out a release Friday clarifying that its library, as well as the Santa Ynez Valley libraries, will be remaining Black Gold Cooperative partners.

With the Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo libraries leaving the system, changes to the remaining Black Gold member libraries include patrons no longer being able to place holds on items or renew items owned by the Santa Barbara or San Luis Obispo libraries, so the Goleta Valley Library is asking patrons to return these items by their due dates.

After June 30, items borrowed from Santa Barbara or San Luis Obispo libraries can no longer be returned to Goleta or Santa Ynez Valley branches.

The Goleta Valley Library also announced Friday that on April 25 it will be transitioning its circulation system to Koha, an open-source software. The Goleta library will also have an increased book budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Noozhawk staff writer Serena Guentz can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.