Library Ad Hoc Committee Endorses Non-LSSI Options

The Library Ad Hoc Committee met yesterday morning in the Empire Room of the Rood Center, and after almost two hours of deliberation voted to endorse two of the public options, finding that either would be a viable solution to the library’s financial problem. The two options are numbers 1 (aka “A”) and 4 (aka “D”) as described in this memo from Mary Ross, Chief Fiscal and Administrative Officer in the county IGS department.

Here’s a summary of option A, excerpted from the memo:

Option A has been developed to address the objectives of the Truckee Friends’ proposal. It retains a high level of professional staffing as compared to the Scenario #2 presented earlier, and keeps the Penn Valley and Bear River stations open. Some highlights of this option are:

a. The Helling and Truckee Libraries are open 37 hours per week, and the Grass Valley Library is open 35 hours. Operating hours at Penn Valley (20 hours) and Bear River (14) remain as currently scheduled.

b. In order to maintain this level of service, one Librarian position is eliminated, and the other Librarian positions are reduced to 30 or 35 hours per week, except for the two Children’s Librarians, which are reduced to 20 hours per week.

c. Literacy Program staff are retained at a level that corresponds with the restricted funding expected to be available for that program.

Here’s a description of option D, excerpted from the memo:

NOTE: Option D was not presented to the Citizens Oversight Committee at their January 13 meeting. It has been developed by staff in order to present a County-run option that more closely approaches the level of budget impact represented by the LSSI contracting option (C). Highlights of Option D are:

a. The Helling and Truckee Libraries are open 37 hours per week and the Grass Valley Library is open 35 hours per week. The Penn Valley and Bear River stations remain open, with hours at the Penn Valley station reduced to 16 per week.

b. Librarian positions are reduced to a level where there is one Librarian per branch, including the County Librarian, who would directly manage the Helling Branch.

c. Literacy Program staff are retained at a level that corresponds with the restricted funding expected to be available for that program.

Committee members present were Reinette Senum, Lisa Swarthout, Jim Meshwart, Mike McDaniel and — by video — Richard Anderson of Truckee.

There appeared to be least a dozen members of the general public — including Madelyn Helling —  in attendance in the Empire Room, and an additional number at the Truckee side.

After a brief review by county staff of the options under consideration, five members of the public spoke.

Joann O’Brien of the Truckee Friends of the Library spoke in support of option  A, which her group was largely instrumental in creating.

Peter Van Zant also spoke in support of option A, pointing out that it keeps staff and stays in budget. He also reminded the committee that  a consensus “is not required by the Board of Supervisors.”

Pam McAdoo of Truckee was concerned that with the staff’s late addition of option D, the “ground rules had shifted.”

Deb Abbadie, also supporting option A, made a special plea to preserve all elements of the childrens’ program. She likewise expressed concern that the process had been “skewed” by the introduction of option D.

Frank Bloksberg spoke about the legal problem the county is likely to encounter if it enters into a contract with LSSI.

Several committee members — particularly Reinette Senum — expressed concerns about the risks of contracting with LSSI, especially as we enter even more unpredictable economic times. She said that the “economic tsunami has not even hit us yet.” “With LSSI,” she said, “we give up more than we get.”

There was a general feeling that keeping “direct county oversight” is a less risky course of action.

Richard Anderson in Truckee spoke about how keeping county control gives us more “operational flexibility.” LSSI has given us “too few details,” he said.

The committee recommended option A and D, with the proviso that staffing levels should in either case be left to the the county librarian.

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