Thursday, April 26, 2012

Lake County libraries: Let’s have a ‘Measure A’

Mendocino County Library’s “Traveling Branch Library”
 I think Lake County libraries should have a Measure A sales tax of its own, after reading about the numerous benefits to Mendocino County libraries.

As posted March 6 by the Ukiah Daily Journal, Mendocino County Library has acquired a bookmobile that is first-of-its-kind in the United States: an electric-diesel hybrid that operates with a prototype auxiliary generator.

Funding for the bookmobile came from American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funds but thanks to Measure A, the library was able to expand bookmobile services to previously underserved areas of Mendocino County.

I’ve argued previously that Lake County should operate a bookmobile: a “Traveling Branch Library,” as emblazoned on the Mendocino County bookmobile’s side.

I see a need for bookmobile services particularly in greater Kelseyville and Cobb communities. District 5 is the only Lake County district that does not have a branch library. A bookmobile would provide services to people who have limited traveling ability.

A bond measure or a sales tax, such as Measure A, would help pay for that bookmobile.

A celebration through yarnbombing of Measure A funding for Mendocino County libraries
But consider these other benefits to Mendocino County libraries, realized since the passage of Measure A:

The UDJ posted a report on April 13  about a presentation by Librarian Melanie Lightbody before the Mendocino County Supervisors. In addition to adding services back, Lightbody noted, the library hoped to put $300,000 in a library reserve fund.

Measure A sales tax revenues would also mean that the library “will now have the ability to pay our overhead costs, which the board of supervisors has paid for us out of general fund money for over 20 years,” Lightbody said.

The UDJ further noted that the board approved a Librarian II position for a children’s librarian for the coast, so that there will be one children’s librarian for the coast and one for inland Mendocino County. The board also approved hiring 10 part-time library assistant positions for various branch libraries.

When I consider the new library that is being built in Middletown, I wonder how it can reasonably run with only one library employee. Surely library Director Gehlen Palmer will be in need of help beyond that which can be provided by volunteers.

The Measure A library sales tax measure also paid for new online resources. Our libraries can always use added funding for collections, whether tangible or online, as well as for vital community services.

For these reasons, I hope Lake County will consider putting a measure to vote and, if it comes to be, I hope Lake County voters will approve a measure for libraries.

Published May 1, 2012 in the Lake County Record-Bee

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