Louise Zabriskie: Speak out for local control of Truckee Library
Seven years ago I moved from Davis to Truckee and paid my first visit to the Truckee Library. I had always been an avid reader and a lover of libraries and was surprised that a vibrant community with a population as large as Truckee had a library of only 5,000 square feet.
Our library opened in 1976 through donated land, fundraising and the hard work of local advocates. Truckee was still an unincorporated community and the library began as a branch of the Nevada County library. Truckee had 3,300 residents when the library opened; today our town has over 16,000 residents.
With the town’s growth, changes in society and advances in technology, it is clear our community’s needs far outstrip the capacity of our current library.
Today, as in 1972, local advocates are raising their voices in support of our library. The Board of the Friends of the Truckee Library support having the town of Truckee take over library operations from the county and the building of a new library. The Friends feel that a locally run library will aid the development of a new library and provide the greatest opportunity for our library’s success in meeting the needs of our community and creating a more engaging place for our residents.
How else will a town-run library benefit our community? The mission of libraries has always been to provide access and connect knowledge to the needs of the local community. Today’s successful libraries collaborate and build partnerships within the communities they serve. With Truckee running its own library, the library’s director will be able to focus on the unique needs of our community, rather than the burdens of the entire county. The director and staff would be more involved in our local community, building partnerships with community stakeholders, and be better able to prioritize community needs and goals.
The Truckee Town Council is considering whether to take over our library from the county. As part of its consideration, the council will invite the public to comment at or before its June 12 meeting on a study it commissioned to determine the financial feasibility of a town-run library. The study is just one piece of a bigger picture in funding a local library, but even so, the study exaggerates the fiscal burden of a locally run library.
For example, the study underestimates the amount of Measure A tax revenues generated in Truckee that the county would be able to return to Truckee for library operations. Under a “return to source” agreement, the county and town would negotiate the details of the sales tax return and the amount of county general funds that could be used to finance a town-run library.
The study also overestimates the cost of a town-run library. One of the benefits of a town-run library is local control over financial decisions affecting the library. The library director would make choices about service levels and models that can affect the cost and quality of services, based on local needs and financial ability. New policies and programs, local partnerships, a strong volunteer force and increased outreach are a few examples of ways we can create operational savings and efficiencies.
Wouldn’t it be better for the town to make decisions about how to best manage services for our community?
We believe that a locally run library will benefit our community and provide the platform for creating a library of the size and quality that Truckee deserves. A locally run library will pave the way and accelerate our path to a modern library, which will be a cultural, intellectual and civic presence that will offer multiple benefits to our community.
Let your voices be heard and come to the June 12 Town Council meeting in support of the town taking over operations of our local library. If you are unable to attend, please write to our Town Council members at firstname.lastname@example.org in support of local control. Truckee deserves a library that meets our community needs and represents what we value as a community.
Louise Zabriskie is president of Friends of the Truckee Library.