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Do You Love or Hate Your Library?

Library officials are in the process of planning for future services.

staff are currently asking local residents to give their two cents about what services they would like to see in their local branches.

Facing decreasing funds over the next few years from the Measure C parcel tax, the outreach will give guidence to staff as they plan for the future, according to Library Director Sarah Houghton.

San Rafael's libraries, located in downtown and at the , currently operate with a $4 million budget, the lowest library budget in all of Marin County. Two thirds of their budget comes from the city's General Fund and the remaining comes from the Measure C parcel tax that voters passed in 2010.

Despite the tax, which allocates funds for the next seven years, staff costs grow between 4 percent to 8 percent every year due to healthcare, pension and retirement obligations even though public employees are not getting increased benefits, according to Houghton.

"Two years later, we found that [the parcel tax funds] weren't sustainable," she said.

In order to present a plan for the next five years to the City Council, Houghton and her staff created a survey for residents, asking them what services they would like to see. As of Aug. 2, Houghton counted over 100 surveys collected from people in front of local grocery stores and online. Take the survey here.

"One thing I noticed already is that some people want more laptop work space desks," Library Administrative Assistant Jinder Banwait said outside of on Thursday.

Library staff will continue their outreach in front of local grocery stores for the next week. Houghton hopes to present the Council with a plan by the end of 2012.

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Pam Dixon August 04, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Some things I want from the library are: many children's programs to encourage kids' language fluidity which then helps them with reading, a nice place to read books I don't want to check out, magazines & newspapers, lots of art, gardening & cook books, bestsellers, trade fiction & nonfiction. A library becomes a cultural center for a town, a pleasurable part of one's day, a fun errand, a wonderful habit of the best sort. Citizens love their library; they feel a strong connection to the one they use and to its librarians. How do reference librarians know so much? Just sit and listen to them help people-- it will astonish you! A library allows us all to continue educating ourselves. San Rafael really needs a bigger library so it can address the learning curves of a community of 58,000. Right now it is bursting at the seams, yet it remains a vibrant, bustling, happy, warm place to spend an hour or many. Hats off to all who make it so!
Tina August 04, 2012 at 05:22 PM
I just attended the Mill Valley speaker series and they held it in their great room seating 200 people when the library was closed. The had a wine reception and it was a fabulous evening out....all for FREE. All I had to do was register. I would like my library to connect with its community so the community connects as a whole. Also, your teen section is abysmal. Selection extremely limited and no lounge!!! What teen wants to sit at that awful little table in the middle of the stacks where adults roam?
Michael August 04, 2012 at 10:02 PM
I think libraries need to go back to their basics of offering books, some music and periodicals. We should not be expanding or offering any any other free services. We are broke now due to out of control spending on every social cause that came around over the past 40 years. Taxpayers should not be funding computer services or alternate language services etc. Go back to basics and let the special interest groups fund their own needs.
Mary August 05, 2012 at 11:58 PM
On several levels I agree with Michael, though I consider offering computer access for those unable to afford it, a basic. Young people who do not have computers at home need this in order to complete school assignments, stay competitive with technology etc. As for free wine and coffee at events, there are plenty of places for that type of event, including local bookstores. Keeping the library basics top quality and paying decent wages/benefits to our librarians should be the priority.

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