Current Status of Libraries Negotiation with Orange County Public Library System (OCPL)
On February 28, 2023, the City Council authorized and directed staff to send a letter of intent notifying the County of Orange that the City of Irvine intends to withdraw from the OCPL system. This action opened discussions and negotiations between the City and the County but does not constitute a final decision. If a proposed withdrawal plan is reached, the final decision will be brought before the City Council at a future date. At this time, negotiations are still ongoing, and a timeframe to bring the item to City Council is yet to be determined.
Background & History of Irvine Libraries
Library service within the City of Irvine is provided by the Orange County Public Library system, a network of 34 branches providing various services to residents throughout Orange County. OCPL is a dependent district, governed by the Orange County Board of Supervisors. Planning for library services is done on a system-wide basis with the budget approved by the Board of Supervisors.
Residents of Irvine may access any of OCPL’s libraries. Three branches are located within the City: University Park Branch, Katie Wheeler Branch, and Heritage Park Library.
City-owned, 55-year lease to County
OCPL has an advisory board comprised of one representative from each member city and two members of the Board of Supervisors. Councilmember Tammy Kim serves as Irvine’s representative on the OCPL Advisory Board.
Why has the City Entered into Negotiations with OCPL?
For the Fiscal Year 2022–23, Irvine contributed approximately $17 million in property taxes to the County of Orange to provide library services in our community. Of note, in the entire OCPL system, Irvine contributes the highest amount of property tax revenues, and Irvine’s contribution accounts for 28% of OCPL’s total annual property taxes revenue. Further, the libraries operated by OCPL in Irvine account for only 11% of OCPL’s entire library space.
In 2012, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the City and the County established a set-aside account to accumulate Irvine’s excess library system contributions for use in Irvine. With the expiration of that MOU in 2022, the set-aside account has reached $28 million. However, due to differences between the City and County on how these funds should be expended and coupled with the fact that the City continues to pay the County more for library services than the cost of providing those services, the City, at the direction of the City Council, has entered negotiations to explore how and what withdrawing would look like.
FAQ on Current Negotiations
Will Irvine remain in the OCPL system, or will the City create a City Library system?
- Answer: Negotiations are ongoing, and a decision has not yet been made. Any plans for staying with the OCPL system or withdrawing to create a City Library system will be brought before City Council for final decision.
Has the City’s library decision been made, or are negotiations continuing regarding who will provide services for the existing libraries and a future site at the Great Park?
- Answer: Negotiations are ongoing and include who will provide services for Irvine’s existing libraries and a future site at the Great Park.
Will the many programs at Irvine libraries continue, and will they remain free to the community?
- Answer: With negotiations ongoing, the City has no planned changes to the programs at Irvine libraries.
Will our OCPL cards continue to access the larger offerings of the OCPL system (including physical and digital collections, programming, and services)?
- Answer: Negotiations are currently ongoing. However, if the City does decide to pursue its own library system, we would explore an agreement to preserve access to the OCPL offerings.
What will be the role of the Friends of the Library (FOL) and the bookstores if the City withdraws from OCPL?
- Answer: The City values and respects the support the FOL organizations provide to Irvine libraries and has no anticipated changes to the role of the FOL/bookstores.
Where can we provide input for future discussions regarding the library?
- Answer: You can email LibrariesFeedback@cityofirvine.org.
If the City takes over the libraries, is there a timeline?
- Answer: With ongoing negotiations, a final decision regarding OCPL/Irvine library services has not yet been made. Staff intends to return in the coming months to the City Council with an update.
Will the City close current libraries?
- While negotiations are ongoing, the City has no plans to close current libraries.
Will the proposed new Great Park Library replace Heritage Park Library?
- No, the new Great Park Library will not replace Heritage Park Library. Pending negotiations with the County and subsequent Irvine City Council considerations, the proposed Great Park Library would serve as a “main” library in addition to existing facilities and services. As part of the Great Park Library feasibility and concept design study, the City will engage with the appropriate OCPL and Friends of Library representatives in an effort to consider best practices and plans for comprehensive library services in Irvine.
Proposed New Library at the Great Park
The proposed new library at the Great Park will serve as the northern gateway into the park at the key intersection of Cadence and Pusan Way. It will be adjacent to the future-planned Veterans Memorial Park and Gardens. The new library provides an excellent opportunity to serve as a gathering place and resource for the community and is envisioned as Irvine’s future central library.
Great Park Library Next Steps:
- Staff is working with a consultant to conduct a comprehensive feasibility and concept development study, which will include:
- Initial review and site assessment.
- Community and stakeholder outreach.
- Program and building design options for Great Park Board consideration.
- Cost study of selected option.
- Preliminary concepts would be developed and presented within the first three months.
- Final reports and option recommendations within six months, likely in early 2024.
Community Outreach Meeting Presentations:
- November 16, 2023: Great Park Library Feasibility and Feedback Town Hall #2
- October 25, 2023: Great Park Library Feasibility and Feedback Town Hall
- October 5, 2023: Feasibility Study for Great Park Library
Town Hall and other associated public meetings relative to concept development will be posted on this webpage as they are scheduled.
For More Information:
- June 27 Great Park Board Meeting Item 1.1 Review of Great Park Library Project Details
- February 28 Council Meeting Agenda Item 3.4 LETTER OF INTENT FROM THE CITY OF IRVINE NOTIFYING THE COUNTY OF ORANGE OF THE INTENTION TO WITHDRAW FROM THE ORANGE COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY SYSTEM
- July 13, 2021, Council Meeting Agenda Item 3.2 CONSIDERATION OF A REQUEST BY MAYOR KHAN AND VICE MAYOR KIM TO CREATE A LIBRARY MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING NEGOTIATING SUBCOMMITTEE