Friends of the Truckee Library: Help keep our library in public hands
Special to the Sun
There have been many shifts, turns and a general plan-as-you-go process utilized by Nevada County officials as they consider the option of outsourcing the management of the public libraries. It has taken a vast amount of energy from the Friends of the Library to stay ahead of this process. Fortunately, with the help of dedicated library stakeholders, the support and sacrifice of the library staff, and the advocacy of the public, we are making inroads in our goal of keeping the library in public hands.
In October, in response to declining revenues, and with almost no warning to the public, the Nevada County Board of Supervisors voted to solicit proposals from outside entities to manage our library system. The County Librarian had revised the library budget in response to funding shortfalls, but some citizens in Western County did not like the idea of closing two library stations established when tax revenues were higher. She was not asked to submit alternative budgets or explore other options for cost cutting.
Library Systems and Services (LSSI), a private company based in Maryland and the only one in the U.S. that manages public libraries, put in a proposal for a five-year contract. In light of the overwhelming reaction by the community against this idea, county administrators seemed to be the only advocates for sending tax revenues generated in our county to a for-profit company out of state. –
Citizens and Friends groups in the both ends of the county asked questions, wrote letters, signed petitions and held rallies. Most of the reaction to the idea of outsourcing centered on two points:
and#8226; Citizens of Nevada County have solved library funding issues before. Why werenand#8217;t they given an opportunity to help solve them again?
and#8226; The value and strength of public libraries is just that and#8212; they are public.- They provide services to all citizens, budgets and management policies are transparent, they are a core community service and they respond in a fluid nature to the needs and wants of local citizenry.
LSSI is a monopoly in the library management company and as a private corporation they operate by very different set of standards for accountability and transparency than public entities. They have not responded to questions asking for greater detail about their finances or the levels of service they would provide. Their secrecy and potential actions in these areas could have profound impacts on our greatest library assets and#8212; our professional staff, the quality of our programming, and the goodwill of our donor and volunteer base.-
The county responded to the community by adding a huge list of FAQs to their website, (www.mynevadacounty.com/libaray, see the Whatand#8217;s News bar on the left-hand side of the page) designating three committees to examine the RFPand#8217;s and alternative options, and having one of these committees, made up of county administrators, recommend one option to the Nevada County Board of Supervisors by Jan. 25.–
The Friends of the Truckee Library believed there were far better alternatives to outsourcing, and we put together an alternative budget proposal which demonstrated there was a way to keep all county library branches open, retain our professional staff and existing programs, and keep the libraries in public hands.
Last Wednesday, Jan. 13, the first of the three recommending committees voted unanimously for the Truckee Friendsand#8217; proposal, citing the County has the ability, staying within the projected library budgets for the next five years, to keep our libraries public and operated by our County. This would preserve all the elements of what has made our libraries so successful and beloved to community members, two-thirds of whom have library cards, and whose devotion is evidenced by contributions in volunteer hours and donations valued at more than $400,000 annually.
– The second advisory committee will meet in the coming days to vote on their recommendation and then it is in the hands of the County Administration and the Board of Supervisors.
If you believe itand#8217;s important to keep our public libraries public, their management practices transparent, and retain professional staff and quality programming, e-mail or write the five Nevada County Supervisors today.- Our supervisors have the responsibility to act in the best interest of the people they serve, and they have a clear opportunity to do this by rejecting outsourcing and voting for the criteria they established: a library budget that is fiscally sound and that retains current library service levels. Your voice is powerful. The Board votes on Jan. 25 to decide the issue. Go to truckeefol.org for contact information. And if you see Supervisor Owens in town, please let him know how you feel.
and#8212; Pam McAdoo is a Truckee resident, an artist and active in library issues in the community
Monday 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Tuesday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Wednesday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Thursday 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Friday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Tuesday Toddler Time at 10:30 a.m. (2 to 3 year olds)
Babes in Bookland Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. (6 months to 2 years)
Storytelling with Mrs. Fix on Thursdays at 11:15 a.m. (3 years and up)
Pajama Time, 1st Thursday of the month at 6 p.m. (all ages)
Bookshelfand#8217;s Dry Camp Book Club at the Library
Meets monthly at the Library. Participants at the book group meeting will receive a coupon for 15 percent off a one-time book purchase at the Bookshelf at Hooligan Rocks. Everyone is welcome.
Now on display at the library
Portraits by Truckee artist Raphael Jolly
Above the Fireplace: Sand Harbor in oils by Linda Dand#8217;Toole