The Calaveras County Library system serves seven (7) communities in addition to San Andreas, the central library of the county seat. Each of these branches serves a portion of our county’s population. We are proud of the service that the main library and each branch offers to the residents of their communities each week.
With the status quo budget,the county provides funding to staff each library branch for 18 hours each week. However, we believe that we can serve communities better if we are able to offer some evening and weekend hours, and the county Friends of the Library (FOTL) has generously agreed to help us offer this level of service with funding in the amount of $34,890.00 for one year. During this year, we will collect data and keep careful statistics on patron use in each community to determine our success. Next year we should have a much clearer picture of which hours work best for each library branch.
Friends of the Library also pay for landscaping, snow removal, and janitorial services. They provide leaders for Storytime, and sponsor summer reading programs. They have paid for computers, books, the ebook program and I’m sure much more... Bob Dean, president of the county FOTL, calls the main library “the Mother Ship" - and it is in many ways. In addition to public hours, the Central library orders and processes all books added to the collection; we oversee Inter-Library loan and ZIP book orders, all finances of all the branches, and the extensive internet service - including GED stations used by the adult literacy and mentoring program offered through the library.
We could not begin to keep up with the processing function in San Andreas without our many volunteers - we have at least 20 at this branch, alone. After the staff select, order and catalog the books, volunteers help with preparing the books for circulation by stamping, covering, and labeling books. More volunteers help with book repair - which our paid staff could not keep up without them. Volunteers help with the sometimes daunting task of going through and organizing donations. They run the book sale rooms in San Andreas and organize sales in other locations. Those who volunteer each week in the branches help the 18 hour branch assistant shelve books, assist patrons, organize materials, sort donations, provide special educational classes for children, help with computers, and create displays.
Copyright Calaveras County Friends of the Library
We hope to offer more educational modules through the library, inviting experts in various fields to offer lectures and instruction in topics of interest. The Arnold branch FOTL has already initiated a seminar series on various topics to be held in their small conference room. We would like to develop a “Library of Things” - offering items which people need to use but not to own. A “seed library” could also be helpful to our patrons. These ideas have been successful in many other places in our state, and I want to try them in Calaveras County. Although these programs won’t require a lot of money, the increase in the Special Department expenses will help us initiate them.
Los Angeles County has recently connected into CENIC (Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California) which gives them broadband service 1000 times faster than they previously had to serve their county. Consider what broadband access could add to Calaveras County, a rural community with limited access to the internet. It would help our high school students, help us in our effort to become a Delta College satellite, add to our literacy and adult mentoring program, to say nothing for those who come to the library to do all their computer work, not having access at home.
We are ripe candidates for a grant to set up this system, but we need to put ourselves on a forward trajectory to make ourselves attractive to donors by offering more to our patrons now - increasing our usage and drawing people in with innovative and creative programs and services that they can’t resist. We may be operating on a near status quo budget, but we cannot be status quo in our service!
Calaveras County has suffered through the national economic downturn, as has all of America. There has been no doubt that the county was stretched for money and that many service departments struggled along with them. Calaveras County is not alone in this. At the 49-99 library cooperative meeting, I heard reports from Stanislaus, Tuolomne and Amador counties, all of which have had to cut services and materials budgets since 2010. But each of them reported progress in beginning to recover what we lost during these years. Despite the added stress we experienced from the Butte fire, I believe that Calaveras County is on the rise. We ARE recovering! The library plays a vital role in this recovery.
This additional employee will also be invaluable to implementing a program called Link+ - an interlibrary loan system which gives participating libraries access to resources in 70 library systems in the state, including some major universities. If implemented, Link + will give our patrons FREE access to academic libraries, special collections, digital materials as well as the print collections held in many other county systems. Materials will be delivered daily to our main library. Link+ is a very exciting prospect as our ZIP book grant will be ending in August of 2016, and we will no longer have money to order all the books our patrons request. This will increase our requests for interlibrary loans, which requires additional staff time.
Thank you to the county for allowing me to submit a status quo budget for 2016-2017, and for not asking me to cut it! However, in order for our library system to better serve the county, I asked for three (3) additional things:
Along with the ZIP books grant, our Califa grant (received to help with recovery after the Butte fire) ends soon. We will be left with just $350 for new materials, budgeted by the county for the last two (2) years. This amount allows us to purchase local newspapers - the only materials paid for by the county through the budget. The FOTL have proposed to designate $7,250.00 from various donations they receive for new materials and put this money into a secure account in the budget. I am very excited about this because it will help me plan our purchases more effectively and make our spending and donations transparent. It will allow us to see the contributions of our Friends and community clearly.
Library computers with Internet!
The work these volunteers do is critical, but organizing them and their tasks takes time. Having an additional part-time employee at the main branch will help us to better coordinate our volunteers.
Your Librarian, Nancy Giddens
We have wonderful conference facilities in the main library. Several of our branches have small conference rooms, and Murphys has a large room. These facilities are used! They give meeting space to organizations like the Parkinson’s Support Group, Master Gardeners, First 5 of Calaveras, Loose Threads Quilt Guild, Genealogical Society, and of course the Friends of the Library. They are used by tutors for people of all ages who are working on their GED, and for computer literacy classes. All of this is great and we are happy to have these people come and use our facilities.
But we can do more!
By establishing a designated fund for Special Library Expenses and matching the donation from FOTL, the county will contribute to a total of $14,500 to purchase materials in 2016-17. We will be able to subscribe to at least one national newspaper and order other important periodicals, as well as audio, digital and print resources. These funds will also help us develop some new programs which we believe will serve our patrons well.
In this new fiscal year I am establishing an informal task force of those in our county who are involved in community service and support. We are going to brainstorm together to formulate ongoing programming for mental health, job searching, recovery, services to seniors, services to the marginalized, youth, and any others we can think of. We want the library to serve the community by having resources which will help all these groups of people, but also to offer a place for dialog and discovery on important issues.
The total increase of just $19,675.00 was APPROVED! We will use this small increase to improve our collection of resources and take better care of our staff and the public. I am happy to have this opportunity to share with you what our library system is doing for our county and share with you what I hope we can do in the future:
We are blooming!
Books, books, and more BOOKS!