THOUSAND OAKS : Library Fee Cuts Use by Non-Residents

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 out-of-town borrowers, a library official said.

"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.

Smith said he was expecting about 5% to 10% of the non-residents who already hold library cards to pay the fee, imposed in October, but only about 2% to 3% paid it.

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.

"There is still a large number of people from out of the area who use the library," Smith said. "They're just not checking anything out."

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. The Thousand Oaks Library has 175,000 items, plus about 15,000 video and audiocassettes; the Las Virgenes Library in Agoura Hills has about 60,000 items plus 1,500 audio and videocassettes available.

However, many non-resident library users, such as Calabasas High School student Marsha Harrison, stopped using the Thousand Oaks Library once they learned of the fee.

"The (Thousand Oaks) library has a lot more stuff then the one near my house, but I can't afford $55," said Harrison, who was studying at the library in Calabasas. "I guess I'll just have to make do with what's here."

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.

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