We have had an off-again/on-again relationship with Santa Monica for the last 15 years. During that time, the Santa Monica Public Library system has always been woven into our lives in this city. From visiting the travel section for every trip we’ve taken together when we were dating, to looking up how to build self-watering planters for the balcony after we moved in together, to getting books by the armload about what to expect when we were expecting…(twice!). Now our two boys (aged 2 and 4) have begun their own love of libraries, browsing the shelves to find new stories about their favorite characters or meeting new ones.

The curbside services have been helpful through the pandemic — the kids are excited to see what set of new books we picked out while they were at preschool — but the whole family is eager to return our routine of going on a neighborhood walk to the library and finding a new book or getting a recommendation from the great library staff. Just like our preschool, we think of the library as part of the expert child educators that round out our village and make us confident our children are constantly learning and exploring.

When we read about the delay in returning to normal operation in Miss Chopra’s May 20, 2021 letter to the Santa Monica Daily Press and the inadequate funding for library services, particularly youth services, in the City’s proposed Fiscal Year 2021/2023 Budget, we were saddened by what the implications are for our two young boys. We moved back for our 3rd (and hopefully final) stint with a new home walkable to the Fairview Library Branch, thinking about afterschool walks to visit the library, and joining the library for storytime once it’s available. With the realities of the libraries possibly not coming back until 2024, as it stands our youngest son will have never had an experience visiting his local library until he starts kindergarten.

We’ve talked to the kids about everything they love being back once the “germy days” are over, and it breaks our heart to think that this one essential service won’t be. We understand that it may be a while until we can safely and confidently hold indoor activities at the library, but we have seen all sorts of services find creative solutions for this by shifting activities outdoors or limiting capacity through appointments.

We ask that the City Council provide more funding for library services than what was in the Proposed Budget, and the City keep enhancing services as more funding becomes available because we see the library as a vital part of our whole family’s education and a window to our neighborhood: a place to meet new families, discover new stories, and learn about our community.

With the libraries having been closed now for the last year, it’s become clear that we need the libraries to re-open to help foster our children’s love of books, get them school ready, and rebuild the in-person community connection that is at the heart of Santa Monica.

Robin and David Boden, Santa Monica residents and parents. save.sm.library@gmail.com. Follow Us on Twitter: @SaveSMLibrary1