History of Auburn Library - Merging



Part 2 of 3  “History of the Auburn Library”  by Anne Holmes


There were two libraries in Auburn, one for the city residents and one for the county residents.  Merging the libraries together was first considered in 1944, but soon was dropped and was not revisited until 1961.  

There were a lot of good reasons to merge.  It would be more economical to pool resources and eliminate duplication in both services provided and purchasing of books.  The city could save money by lowering their tax basis from 28 cents to the county value of 8 cents of $100 assessed value. 

The first step was a “trial marriage” of reciprocal borrowing to see if a merger would work.  Under this agreement a patron was able to use his library card at either library, however the book had to be returned to the library from where it was borrowed. 

Even though reciprocal borrowing was well received, the Auburn Library Trustees were not convinced a merger was good for the city.  They felt it was not a joint venture but a dissolution of the city library.  They were concerned about the loss of control of their collection, lack of input in the running of the library, and loss of employees.  By becoming a branch of the county library, the Auburn Library would lose its identity as a city cultural center.  

The city council decided to put the merger on the November 1964 general election ballot for the residents to decide.  

Argument in Favor:  better economics, more books and magazines with less duplication, longer hours (evenings and Saturdays), better parking, and two city representatives would be on the Library Advisory Board.

Argument Against: Lose the collection, lose the Carnegie building, be absorbed into an organization that did not have a permanent home (County was renting Palm Ave building), and by making the city library into a branch it would lose its identity.

The merger proposal was defeated 1,427 to 1,283.  It took four more years, and in 1968 the Auburn City Council approved the merger.