SALINAS, Calif., Nov. 21 (UPI) -- Salinas, Calif., officials say the downtown Steinbeck Library, the El Gabilan branch and the Cesar Chavez branch are to be closed by next July.
If the libraries close -- the downtown facility was named after native son John Steinbeck - Salinas will become the first city to close libraries in California, the San Jose Mercury News reported Sunday.
Unless there is a windfall from John Steinbeck or library supporters, the Salinas city government will close the libraries before July 1, 2005.
Since the early 1990s, when the state began diverting property taxes from local to state use, libraries have suffered losses - with some reducing hours, some increasing fines, and others seeking alternative revenue from special taxes. But none has closed.
"No other municipality in California has ever closed an operating library system, and this is not a pleasant precedent," said Robert McElroy, director of the Monterey County Free Libraries.
Layoff notices are scheduled to go out in January.