By Andrea Swayne
Orange County Public Libraries ordered the Friends of the Library Bookstore at the Dana Point branch temporarily closed, effective November 1.
The county announced at its October 24 volunteer recognition event at the Laguna Niguel branch that it would begin to work toward putting together formal licensing agreements with Friends bookstores county-wide.
The announcement came as a result of county attorney Jacqueline Guzman discovering that no license agreements exist between the county and any Friends groups. Guzman recommended that, for the protection of the libraries and the Friends groups, there should be formal agreements specifically allowing the nonprofit volunteer Friends groups to occupy county property for the purpose of selling books in order to provide financial support for library services.
Guzman on October 29 informed the Friends of the Dana Point Library board that the Dana Point bookstore would be closed while the county works on the project.
According to Orange County Librarian Helen Fried, all other Friends bookstores will remain open and their boards will be contacted by the county regarding their licensing agreements after January.
Recent infighting between the current Friends board and a group of former volunteers dubbed “Save Our Bookstore” has escalated, resulting in an effort by the group to oust the board and, in response, the filing of a lawsuit against Save Our Bookstore by the current board.
“We felt that since a new board is set to be elected in December at the Friends’ annual meeting, and in light of recent internal conflict among the board and former volunteers, this temporary closure would provide the group an opportunity to amicably resolve their internal member conflicts,” said Fried. “We hope that the newly elected Friends board, members, volunteers and library staff can meet after the election to reaffirm all the parties’ expectations and continue the partnership we have enjoyed all these years.”
There are 34 county owned libraries in Orange County, but not all have Friends bookstores.
Friends nonprofit support organizations are neither organized nor controlled by the county.
The recommendation is still awaiting final approval by the OC Board of Supervisors and is expected to appear on a meeting agenda some time in December.
Books donated during the temporary closure are being stored in the warehouse at library headquarters in Santa Ana and will be delivered to the Friends bookstore upon reopening, Fried said.
Fried added that once members of the new board and county representatives sign the license agreement, the county will authorize the store to be reopened.
An official reopening date is yet to be determined, but Fried estimates a tentative date of January 1, 2013.