County librarians say this serves their customer base better by accumulating the types of materials that are requested in one place. It also reduces wear-and-tear on the items by eliminating a trip by bus or truck to the place of origin.
It also, no doubt, saves gas.
It's called a "floating collection."
The innovative idea has struck ground in Laguna Beach, where some members of the very active and vocal Friends of the Laguna Beach Library want it stopped — at least in Laguna.
Some Friends argue that they have poured thousands of dollars of donated money into enhancing the Laguna Beach collection, and it would violate their charter to allow the materials to be siphoned away.
They also point out that the Friends have come to the rescue of the library financially, footing the bill for a new paint job and landscaping that the county could not afford.
If the Friends group can no longer guarantee that materials purchased with donated funds would stay in Laguna, they might have to stop collecting donations or change their charter to reflect that the funds benefit the wider county system.
It's a great system because one library card grants access to materials in a number of cities. For instance, if you live in Laguna Beach and work in Aliso Viejo, or vice versa, you can use either branch.
The county librarians have said that Laguna's special collection of art books would not "float," which may soften some opposition.
It may be splitting hairs for the Friends to argue that books bought with Laguna money must stay in Laguna.
The fact is, the Friends' fundraising helps the countywide library system by taking burdens off of it.
We would hate to see Laguna's collection of materials floating away to other facilities, but materials from other areas will "float" this way, too.
And we would hate even worse to see a move by the local advocacy group to split off from the mother ship.
Perhaps the county librarians can come up with a compromise, such as allowing materials to "float" only when there is more than one copy at the home branch.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK
Should the Laguna Beach library break away from the Orange County library system? Write us at P.O. Box 248, Laguna Beach, CA, 92652, e-mail us at email@example.com or fax us at 494-8979. Please give your name and tell us your home address and phone number for verification purposes only.