Vernon is small industrial city with more city staff than residents. Despite its small population, we were surprised to learn recently that it has a municipal library.
While doing research for our forthcoming Civic Profiles update, a CPC researcher found that the library was open zero hours per week and had a mere 1093 books. Vernon’s municipal website does not mention the library but it does show a library board of trustees. This board consists entirely of the city council members. The most recent annual meeting minutes show that the board was called to order and adjourned within one minute, with no votes taken.
Recently, I paid a visit to the Vernon City Library. Google Maps pointed me to the Vernon Branch of the Los Angeles County Library. Open since 1975, it serves all Los Angeles County residents. Wrong library.
I drove to Vernon City Hall to see if anyone knew about the city library. When I stopped at the City Clerk’s office, I was informed that there actually was a Vernon City Library and that it was located in City Hall. My search for this mysterious library had ended — but not the mystery itself.
One of the deputy clerks took me to the library. When he unlocked and opened the door, he revealed a small room nearly filled with boxes and a few bookshelves scattered around the walls of the room. Most of the books appear decades old; the latest editions of National Geographic are from 1994. Whoever acquired books for the library must have liked L. Ron Hubbard, because the city library has a number of volumes of Dianetics.
City staff confirmed that few are really concerned about the Vernon library. The “job” of the library trustee is just one extra task for city council members, and they do not receive extra pay for sitting on the board. In fact, the annual pro forma library board meeting is held at the end of a regular council session — and as we see in the board’s minutes, required no more than 60 seconds.
The clerk told me that city officials want to allocate more money for the library to be moved to another location, but there’s not much enthusiasm for the project. The hot project in Vernon these days is creation of the historical preservation society.