The voter-approved June ballot measure that levied a $49-tax on all residential and commercial property in San Rafael has put officials up to the pleasant task of bringing back services that were reduced or eliminated in lean years.
Measure C passed with more than the two-thirds majority needed, giving library staff a lift in morale after a 10 percent cut to the budget in 2009 on top of years of service and hour reductions.
San Rafael Public Library Director David Dodd said the planning process is a gradual one because he can only estimate how much the measure will raise until January, when property taxes have been collected.
"We will do things right away that are relatively inexpensive," Dodd said. "Others will be done gradually."
First up, the library will bring back data bases it had dropped subscriptions to and then increase spending on materials as money becomes available.
Dodd hopes the money will eventually mean that hours can be restored. Currently, the library is open 48 hours a week. That is down from 59 hours in 2004 and 72 hours a week in the pre-Proposition 13 years.
"My goal is to get back to that 59," Dodd said.
He also wants to be able to hire staff to replace about three positions that have been eliminated, including one of the children's library's part-time librarians and two circulation staff.
"We did not lay off but we will have to evaluate how we can add back," Dodd said, adding that he is not sure if the city-ordered employee furloughs that equal a 5 percent pay cut will be eliminated.
That is key to increasing hours.
"It's going to be real hard to explain to people who come to the door that we are closed on the second Monday," Dodd said.
He said he understands that residents might question the need for more staff and more spending at the library but said librarians are there to help such visitors as job seekers, business people, students and children.
"To me the crucial thing is just being open," Dodd said. "People often start at home and want to go deeper and we have people who can guide that."
The country's deep recession also has created business for libraries nationwide, Dodd said.
"In these times our business is going through the roof," Dodd said. "More books are being published than ever before even with e-books and Google Books."
Hollie Stanaland, the children's librarian, said it has been hard working with fewer staff.
"We are thrilled and grateful that Measure C passed," Stanaland said. "It's terrible to cut services to children."
Tes Robarts, who was visiting the children's library with her triplet nine-year-old sons, said her family spends a lot of time there.
The librarians here have been so wonderful with recommendations for books to read for their level," Robarts said. "Though they are nine, they are very advanced readers."
For more information see http://www.cityofsanrafael.org.