The city of Salinas is unable to come up with $3 million in annual operating costs, and announced its three public libraries will go into "hibernation" in June, The Telegraph reported.
Once the news broke, someone adorned the 6-foot statue of Steinbeck with a black armband, and residents have even petitioned talk show host Oprah Winfrey for help.
Lauren Cercone, who failed in her efforts to have the libraries funded with municipal taxes, said there was a bitter irony in the very system Steinbeck relied upon.
"Steinbeck once commented in a letter that he couldn't have continued without the city and county libraries, as he relied not only on the collections but also on the research abilities of the librarians," Cercone said.
Salinas served as a backdrop for many of Steinbeck's novels, including "The Grapes of Wrath."