Spotlight: The Santa Barbara Public Library

By: Natalia Hernandez

(Photo Credit: Noozhawk) Library Entrance

The Santa Barbara Public Library provides information services, reading materials, and educational resources to residents of all ages from the Santa Ynez Valley to Carpinteria. It is located in Downtown Santa Barbara on the corner of Anacapa and Anapamu street, conveniently in the heart of the Cultural Arts District of Santa Barbara. If you are a UCSB student and lack personal transportation, taking the SB MTD 11 bus route can take you to the Library downtown.

I have been a student at UCSB for the past four years and I never visited the Santa Barbara Public Library until I started interning for the Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation. As my supervisor took me on my first tour of the Library, I immediately was in awe of the open space and welcoming charisma of the Library staff. The first floor includes the three Faulkner Galleries where local art is displayed and rotated every month. You can also rent out these spaces on the library’s website. The open windows on the Anacapa side of the library provides a beautiful street view of the courthouse and natural light for those who want a quiet, bright place to study. I was also taken downstairs to the Children’s Library where they offer Early Literacy Skills programs and resources for both English and non-English speaking children.

(Photo Credit: The Santa Barbara Independent) Anacapa Street View

With the help of the Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation, the Library will be renovating the outside plaza this fall. The new Michael Towbes Library Plaza will be an accessible outdoor space for the Library’s programming, creating a unifying space where the community can regather and learn in the vibrant Cultural Arts District downtown.

Whether you’re a student, child, adult, or senior citizen, the Library is a source of civic engagement and a hub for mutual aid available to people of all backgrounds. Below is a list of available resources that the library provides as well as notable programs that are available to everyone with a library card.

Resources Provided:

  • Meeting rooms available to local organizations by prior arrangement by calling 805-962-7653
  • Faulkner Gallery (seating capacity 190)
  • Faulkner Gallery East (seating capacity 15)
  • Faulkner Gallery West (seating capacity 15)
  • Art exhibits and displays
  • Typewriter
  • Public Printing (B&W and Color), Public Wifi, Document Scanning, Mobile Printing, and Copy Machines
  • Tech Lab: 3D Printer on-site and mobile availability
  • Microfilm reader and printer
  • Book Discussion Groups
  • Homework Help Center
  • Book Sales: The Central Library has an ongoing book sale in the library


Adult Literacy Services

The Library offers free one-on-one tutoring to promote adult literacy in the community. Free These services are available to adults who want help in:

  • Improving reading, writing, and spelling skills in English or Spanish
  • Improving their ability to speak and understand English
  • Working towards a General Education Diploma
  • Studying to become a U.S. citizen

This program is meant to be personalized to everyone’s learning needs and educational goals. They also offer Spanish tutors for those who are Spanish speakers and want to improve in reading and writing. You qualify for these services if you are 16 or older, available for 2-3 hours a week for tutoring and will be staying in the Santa Barbara area for at least 6 months. To schedule an interview or for any questions, call 805-564-5619 (English) or 805-962-7653 (press #3 for Spanish).

SB Reads

(Photo Credit: The SBPL) Last year’s Library choice for SB Reads 2021

Santa Barbara Reads is the Santa Barbara Public Library’s annual month-long community reading program. Every year, the Santa Barbara Public Library selects a specific book and encourages everyone in the community to read together. The Library then hosts several events to allow further exploration of the chosen book’s themes.

The Library on The Go Mobile Van

(Photo Credit: The SBPL) Library On The Go van

This van is equipped with trained staff, resources, and materials to mobily bring the library to any location. This van provides: Materials, check out, Free public Wi-Fi, Laptop computer use at select stops, Document printing at select stops, Library card registration, Hold pick up at select stops, Library programs for various ages at select stops, Assistance with Library accounts, use of the library catalog, and placing requests. The Library also hosts a “Library On The Go” cocktail happy hour throughout the year to engage with the community.

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