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Library director discusses growth of local business partnership

ESCONDIDO — At the Sept. 12 Library Commission meeting, Escondido Public Library Director Dara Bradds announced that the library had entered into a partnership with an area business as part of the “Read Local, Shop Local” initiative.

The partner? Shakey’s Pizza, a restaurant making a comeback after departing from the city in the 1970s. Now located across the street from the California Center for the Arts on Escondido Boulevard, Shakey’s was the first pizza parlor chain in the U.S., founded in Sacramento in 1954. The partnership will allow card-carrying members of the Escondido Public Library to get discounts at the restaurant.

“We are proving that the library services are useful and desirable programs,” said Azar Katouzian, senior librarian of adult services at the Escondido Public Library. “We are providing, according to our vision, that we are going to expand the role of our library of ‘Unlimited Possibilities.’ We are trying to think about our patrons and trying to provide more and more services to them.”

The “unlimited possibilities” pointed to by Katouzian can be found in the library’s mission statement, which reads that the library exists as “The destination to expand your world to unlimited possibilities.”

Katouzian added that Read Local, Shop Local goes beyond local restaurant discounts, though it offers plenty of those too. She pointed to its partnership with those such as Mathnasium of South Escondido, the Stone and Glass glass blowing arts center and the Persian Cultural Center as examples of the library connecting to regional educational, arts and cultural institutions. In that vein, the program also offers discounts at Patio Playhouse, a local theatrical production company and venue for plays and musicals.

Several restaurants and adult beverage establishments are also on the “Read Local, Shop Local” list. They include The Wooden Spoon, SIP Wine & Beer, Burger Bench, The Grand Tea Room and Cute Cakes Escondido, among others.

Read Local, Shop Local got off the ground in 2016 and Katouzian said that it is modeled after the Orange Public Library system’s “Show Your Orange Public Library Card and Save” program.

“Escondido Public Library is the heart of our great community,” Viktor Sjöberg, then the adult services senior librarian, said at the time in a press release when the library launched the program. “Having a free library card gives you access to a wealth of cultural and educational materials and activities that enrich your life, whether you are looking to teach your child how to read, pursue a college degree or to just have fun.”

Similarly, the San Diego Public Library system has “Check It Out” family museum passes, allowing patrons and their families to attend Balboa Park’s Museum of Man and San Diego Museum of Art, as well as downtown San Diego’s The New Children’s Museum, all free of charge.

To get the word out about the program, Katouzian said the library places brochures on the front check-out desk, the help desk and maintains a website. The library also advertises the program on social media, she said. She further explained that participating businesses, too, prominently display program brochures in-house and that all new recipients of library cards receive a brochure about Read Local, Shop Local.

“We do have a good collection of businesses in our program and we are adding more partners to cover different needs of our patrons,” said Katouzian. “It’s a benefit to the library to be able to provide more help and services for our patrons through our partners and we are then also able to get our partners help. Both sides benefit: the library and the businesses.”

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