Contra Costa County Librarian Anne Cain tells me that the county library system’s plan to shift $1.2 million in costs to the cities should have no impact on the new downtown Walnut Creek library under construction, but that it could have some impact on hours at the library on Oak Grove Road.
The new library won’t be affected because “cities are already responsible for all facility and property management costs for new facilities.”
But Ygnacio Valley Library hours could be cut. The library is currently open 56 hours, but could lose four hours, according to a county library report. The library also maintains the temporary Park Place library at Civic Park.
There are different options the library is looking at to maintain those hours, as Cain explained in a report to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday. As part of its plan to shift $1.2 million in costs to cities, the library is looking to ask Walnut Creek to pitch in $137,174.
“We will be having discussions with the City of Walnut Creek about the Ygnacio Valley Library,” Cain tells me.
In an editorial, the Contra Costa Times says cities must step up to help retain library hours, especially in these tough economic times.
In fact, library use has increased as the economy has worsened. Anne Cain, county librarian, says that there has been a huge increase in all of the library services.
More people are using libraries for job searches and research. In lower-income communities, often the library is the only place students have access to computers outside of school. Also, the county’s 25 libraries provide free entertainment, which is more in demand during an recession.
The county would continue to provide library services and leave maintenance and building costs to the cities that now enjoy county subsidies.
That means if individual cities wish to retain current library hours they will have to come up with funds to maintain the buildings.
Cain is right in saying that it would be more equitable for all cities to pay for library building maintenance, especially during a recession that has hit county revenues particularly hard.
We understand that cities also have financial problems, but they should be able to collectively come up with the funds necessary to maintain the libraries within their own borders.