WEST VALLEY : Library Fee Affects Local Borrowers

A $55 annual fee imposed at the Thousand Oaks Library on non-residents who check out materials has cut down on the high number of borrowers from the western end of the San Fernando Valley, a library official said Thursday.

"Our circulation decreased immediately after the fee was imposed, but then went back up as people in the community realized we were less crowded," library director Marvin Smith said. More Thousand Oaks residents are visiting the library, he said.

Before the fee was imposed, hundreds of residents from Calabasas, Agoura Hills and the western San Fernando Valley headed across the Ventura County line to the Thousand Oaks Library because they found their own public libraries lacking. The Thousand Oaks Library has a collection of 175,000 items, plus about 15,000 video and audio cassettes, contrasted with the Las Virgenes Library in Agoura Hills, which has about 60,000 items plus 1,500 audio and videocassettes available for loan.

Las Virgenes Library Manager Sy Rimer said he has noted a 25% to 30% increase in his library's business since the Thousand Oaks Library fee went into effect.

A plan proposed by Los Angeles County to build a regional library in the Las Virgenes area will further reduce the number of people who visit Thousand Oaks from other communities, Smith said.

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