The Palm Desert City Council last week officially withdrew from the Riverside County Library System (RCLS), choosing instead to establish an independent municipal library.

“This is a momentous step and an immense amount of work has gone into bringing it before us,” Mayor Kathleen Kelly said ahead of the vote.

The process of leaving RCLS began this past spring when the Parks and Recreation Committee created a subcommittee to study issues related to library operations. That subcommittee later recommended that the council either work to enhance levels of services or take over the management of the library. 

Council subsequently directed city staff to look into the feasibility of assuming control of the Palm Desert Library and running it as a municipal library which led to the creation of a Library Taskforce to provide community input into the process.

“In June, council provided direction to withdraw from the county library system and establish a city library system,” Chris Escobedo, assistant city manager, said. “Since that time, staff has been working with the city’s legal team to draft the necessary documents to formalize that withdrawal.”

According to a city report, city staff have also been working with county staff to negotiate the terms of withdrawal, including “finalizing the anticipated annual revenue amount, assuming the county’s lease of the library building and agreement on the personal property within the library.”

“I think on behalf of us all, I can express gratitude to the Library Task Force for its work to date and continuing attention to this wonderful opportunity to provide our city with an excellent resource,” Kelly said. “Thank you all for your excellent work this evening.”

The city is expected to assume operations of the library July 1, 2024.

A video of the meeting can be found here on the city’s YouTube page.

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