‘We are not discussing closing’: Nevada, Placer counties working towards collaborative library efforts
Tahoe Daily Tribune
TRUCKEE, Calif. — North Lake Tahoe is home to some of the most locally adorned communities in the Tahoe Basin, and the passion that locals bring to these neighborhoods’ seeps into each individual community’s roots.
Post offices, recreation centers, schools, and more keep these towns going, but the community asset of libraries is one of the industries that’s getting a facelift.
It was recently announced that the town of Truckee will be bringing the vision of a 20,000-square foot library to reality. But this presents the question of what the future holds for both the Tahoe City and Kings Beach library locations. While these libraries are in separate counties, the potential to collaborate amongst locations is being discussed between Placer and Nevada counties.
“I was approached by the Friends of the Truckee Library with the concept that they wanted to build a regional library in Truckee,” said Placer County Supervisor Cindy Gustafson. “We started talking about service delivery and if it was better for us to have service delivery in a partnership with Nevada County and the town of Truckee, or to continue to have service from Placer County.”
While the opening of a brand-new library in Truckee is on the horizon, expected to break ground on construction in 2025, many locals to both Tahoe City and Kings Beach are concerned about the future of their local libraries.
“I’ve been getting a significant number of emails from community members concerned about us shutting down the Tahoe City and the Kings Beach Library locations,” Gustafson said. “I can assure you while I’m supervisor, we are not discussing closing these locations, but rather talking about what’s the best model for services up here.”
While Gustafson assures the community that the idea of a closure to the Tahoe City and Kings Beach library locations isn’t in discussion, there is work that needs to be done at both libraries for the community to continue to utilize them as an effective resource.
A Library Services Report was published in mid-May by the Placer County Executive Office, highlighting a study that further analyzes the Placer County Library Services System. In this report, it was found that staffing levels are not sufficient in several library branches throughout the county, Tahoe City and Kings Beach branches are too small to adequately provide the level of service desired by the community, and that community members want libraries open for more hours, more days, and access to a wider range of resources and materials.
It was also acknowledged that additional funding is needed to maintain and improve library service delivery, and partnership with other entities, such as Nevada County and the town of Truckee is not feasible until [Placer] County has “more to bring to the table.” The report further highlights exactly what these steps would need to be for a partnership to take place.
1. Coordinate together on sharing the costs for a staff member who is dedicated to engaging with community groups.
2. The [Placer and Nevada County] libraries could coordinate on developing a web of self-service options, working together to place library vending machines and book return bins to further support service in the area.
3. Placer and Nevada counties could also explore an agreement that enables them to share staff between the furthest eastern libraries for each county.
After further analysis, Gustafson elaborates, by stating that while other Placer County libraries are facing closure, she assures that no locations in the Tahoe Basin are facing closure, but rather a potential relocation.
“In both Tahoe City and Kings Beach, both facilities are small, and especially in Tahoe City the library location is somewhat hard to find,” Gustafson said. “When the county recently acquired a building on the main street in downtown [Tahoe City], we brought the question to the surface of if that might be a better library location, so we’re looking into that as well as looking into partnership with Nevada County and the town of Truckee in our next study.”
While the potential for relocation, it’s important to analyze that it could aid in bringing more business to these library locations. Given that these branches are in smaller communities, and as the library study highlighted, understaffing is an ongoing issue in keeping these libraries open for their typical day-to-day hours.
“As the supervisor, I think my job is to always question how we provide services and make sure it’s efficient and effective for our community,” Gustafson said. “There were many times where our Tahoe libraries were closed because a staff member was out, and nobody could come up from Auburn to fill in for them, ultimately forcing the libraries to just close for the day.”
In efforts to help mitigate the ongoing issues of understaffing and limited hours at the Tahoe City Library location specifically, President of the Tahoe City Friends of the Library, Sandra Hauserman, has ideas that could benefit the longevity and growth of the branch.
“Bringing back part time or seasonal employees to help handle the ebb and flow in this small town that bursts at the seams and relaxes afterwards would help,” Hauserman said. “Use the input from the community to individualize the service to meet the needs of locals. Parity among our county libraries is truly essential to be sure, but not always in all things. The Friends [of the library organizations] all over the county are passionate about their support of their libraries. We stand ready to lend a lot more support than we are currently giving if only we knew the best way to do it.”
While there’s potential for reformative change for both Tahoe City and Kings Beach libraries, bringing the idea of a new library in Truckee to fruition could be a significant stepping-stone in the process. The new Truckee library will be located at the Truckee Regional Park situated across from the 7-11 on Brockway Road.
“If Truckee is successful in moving forward with their library, we’re discussing that location being the hub, with the smaller libraries available for services in their given communities,” Gustafson said. “There was discussion about some of the children’s programs that happen at each of these locations as well, so we really need to and are proactively working on doing a lot of analysis at this time.”
The Tahoe City Friends of the Library’s intention is to make it known to the community that potential change for the Tahoe City location is on the horizon, and to get locals up to speed on what the possible future is for this library branch.
“The only avenue that I know of now is to make sure that our community makes their library needs known,” Hauserman said. “It’s important that the Board of Supervisors knows that we need our library as a central part of who this community is. Our residents come from all over the world to live, work and educate their children here. Our business community, schools, and our library give our children the opportunity to begin their adult lives, and we intend to send them out on equal footing with the rest of their peers.”
The Tahoe City Friends of the Library organization has been rejuvenated in the last seven months, effectively establishing five small, free libraries around the Tahoe City area, produced two “story-walks” for pre-readers with two more in production, increased book donation requests and held monthly used book sales to further generate funds to buy more books for the library, and participated with local businesses to collaborate on raising more money through fundraisers that further benefit the library and effectively engage the community at every level.
While there’s consistent conversation looming around the idea of these local libraries closing their doors while another is in the works of opening, Gustafson states that she is more than happy to correct this misunderstanding that’s happening within these communities.
“We need to be a reliable resource for our communities, and that’s of the utmost importance,” Gustafson said. “I want to put to rest that there’s any idea that the county is initiating the closure of any Tahoe City or Kings Beach library locations, that is not the case at all.”
For more information on the new Truckee library plans visit: https://www.truckeefol.org/new-library.
For more information on library locations in Placer County, visit: https://www.placer.ca.gov/2093/Library.
Madison Schultz is a reporter for the Tribune, a sister publication of the Sun. She may be reached at email@example.com.
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