Monday, March 18, 2013

Final Farewell

As many of you know, I have announced my retirement as Director of Library Services for the City of Livermore. I came to Livermore from Tacoma, Washington, 28 years ago as the new Director of Library Services following Don Nolte and Sallie Gray--- hard acts to follow. Livermore, a community of 45,000 at the time, intrigued me because it was very similar to a Texas community I had worked in that was smaller when I started there but enjoyed significant growth which I found challenging and rewarding. Today, Livermore is a community of approximately 85,000. I have had the opportunity to grow with the City and to implement many of the services the larger community wanted and needed. Livermore was and is a great place to live and work, so I have stayed much longer than I originally anticipated. Much of that is due to the fantastic community support this library has from all of you. Your support and, in many cases generosity, has allowed me to develop many wonderful and exciting library services. I have been very fortunate to have a staff that has gone along with some of our more interesting and different ideas to deliver to you the best possible services for your community.

In 1985, when I first became your Library Director, Livermore had a single library on the Civic Center site south of downtown Livermore. I was hired by then City Manager Lee Horner to bring automated technology to the library and to develop outreach services to the community to increase use of the library by those not currently taking advantage of its offerings.

We began our outreach by opening the Springtown Branch Library. Formerly a convenience store, the building had been donated to the City. It was moved to its current site by the duck pond, remodeled and opened in 1986. I fondly call it our “7-11” library where you can run in, grab some books and run out.

Also in that year, 1986, we offered our first incentive based summer reading program where children read books for prizes donated by merchants in the community. The top prize was for 100 books read and one of the prizes for reaching that level was a presentation of the Super Readers to the Livermore City Council. That year we took 19 kids to the City Council. We have been doing the summer reading program every year since. Last year, we had over 800 children earning the presentation to the Council. One of the highlights of the summer reading program for many years was the annual sleepover at the Civic Center Library. I often hear from young parents with children of their own how they spent the night at the Civic Center Library!

In the late 80’s and early 90’s, we continued outreach in other parts of the community through the Library in a Box program. During the summer months, we placed a 12’ X 12’ construction box filled with books at strategic places around town to bring the summer reading program to underserved areas of the community. Ultimately the Library in a Box resulted in the construction of the Rincon Branch Library. The Livermore community voted to allow the City to spend windfall money on a modular library with unique round shelves to be placed in the May Nissen Park in the Rincon area of Livermore. The Rincon Branch opened in 1992 and continues today to serve a very diverse and unique community in the western part of the city.

Another milestone in my early years here was the establishment of the Livermore READ literacy program. This one on one tutoring program where volunteer tutors are matched with adult students who need to learn to read and write is still going strong with an average of 200 tutor-student pairs at any given time.

Another of my objectives was to bring technology and automation to the library. In the late 1980’s we introduced a computerized check out system and an online, automated catalog, eliminating the old card catalog. This technology, modernized as it has improved, continues in place today. It now allows our library patrons to use our library anywhere, anytime and to do much of their library business on their own. It wasn’t always easy to convince some of our patrons that this new technology was the best thing, but ultimately the modern world becomes the norm. And the introduction of technology has allowed us to much more effectively and efficiently operate the library. Today, we have not only an internet based catalog but automated materials handling check-in, self-check out and the virtual library where most library business can be conducted right from your home in your PJ’s. The Library is continually improving its use of technology as it evolves and as funding allows including the recent addition of e-books for borrowing.

During the 1990’s the library introduced free access to computers for the public. We started with four computers available for use and today have over 80 free computers for use by our patrons. In the late 90’s the Library’s policy of free and open, unfiltered internet access for anyone, children included, was challenged by a parent. The case went to court three times, and in all three instances, the courts upheld the library policy, indicating the library should not dictate to anyone what they can read, see or hear.

Perhaps my proudest achievement in my career is the construction and opening of the new Civic Center Library. In 1999, the citizens of Livermore passed a unique three agency general obligation bond measure which funded a new library, a new community center and maintenance and repair of the schools. The 56,000 s.f. Civic Center Library opened on the Civic Center campus in 2004. It has become a show piece for the City, much loved and enjoyed by all and a real community hub--- Livermore’s living room.

However, it was not without its controversy. The facility has much public art in it which contributes to its beauty. One of the public art pieces is a tile mosaic by artist Maria Alquilar at the entrance to the building. This art piece features icons representing the tree of life, the disciplines found in the library and images of Livermore. The artist decided to label many of the icons and in doing so managed to misspell 11 of the labels! These misspellings created much controversy and after much press including national and international attention and discussion, the artist returned to correct the misspellings. The mosaic continues today be a much loved art piece making for a very colorful entrance to the library.

For years the City and the Library enjoyed adequate funding to provide our services. However, in 2007, the national economy fell on hard times and so did the City’s revenues. This necessitated considerable belt tightening by all City departments including the Library. As a result of budget deficits, the Library first reduced the hours at the branch libraries to three days per week and cut the materials budget by one quarter. The revenues of the City continued to fall and the Library was further forced to cut the materials budget again ultimately to half its original amount and to close the Springtown Library. By borrowing staff from the Civic Center Library, we were able to reopen the Springtown Branch one day a week. In the meantime, the Library was successful in obtaining a grant to create the Springtown Easy Access Library.

In 2013, the Springtown Easy Access Library, which is a completely self-serve library at the Springtown Library building, opened. It is available when the staffed library is not, from 8am to 8pm every day. Patrons may obtain an Easy Access card which gets them into the building where they may borrow books, DVD’s, pick up holds and return borrowed materials.

What does the future hold for libraries and for Livermore Public Library? The role of the public library is changing. It is still a place for book borrowing but those books may be electronic as well as hard copy. Another core purpose of the public library is the provision of computer access, especially for those who do not have such access. More and more of today’s business is conducted online and patrons need to be able to do this even if they do not have their own computer. The public library will continue to grow as a community hub, providing programs of interest and importance to the citizens it serves. Emphasis will continue to be placed on introducing children to the world of books and knowledge through the provision of age appropriate materials and children’s programing. The Library, as the world in general, will become increasingly self-service. However, the human touch will still be available to keep the library a warm and inviting place to spend some time. In order to better communicate with our patrons, the library has and will continue to embrace social media as a way of getting our message across and encouraging people to take advantage of our services.

So I say farewell to my 28 year career here as your Library Director. It has been so very rewarding and exciting and inspiring. I will cherish all of the friendships and acquaintances I have made over the years. Thank you, Livermore, for allowing me to serve you and create  the quality library services you so richly deserve. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Summer 2012

The City and the Library have been compiling the budget for the next two years, 2012 to 2014. Even though the economy is very slowly rebounding, the most recent budget message to the City Council indicates that money is still tight. Revenues are flat or only slightly increased over the previous two year cycle. In addition, the City had postponed numerous expenditures to balance the previous two year budget and the various funds which had not been supported must now begin to be brought up to date.

Each of the City departments was asked to provide a 5% cut from the current budget in order to balance the budget for the next two years. To meet that cut, the Library has given up vacant positions it was holding and has determined not to fill vacancies caused by anticipated upcoming retirements. As a result, we will be losing another 2.65 FTE positions from our staffing compliment. Since the budget losses began in 2009, the Library has lost overall 10.13 FTE or 17 people since we use many half time staff.
In addition to staffing reductions, the Library will again be reducing our hourly employee budget and our materials budget. Since 2009, we have seen a 29% decline in our hourly budget and a 36% decrease in our materials budget. In 2009 we had $400,000 to spend on library materials and we now have $257,000. The Friends of the Library have been instrumental in helping bridge this gap by providing funds for many of our electronic resources.

The Library has experienced a 16% decline in its operating budget since 2009 and has significantly reduced open hours at both branch libraries, resulting in the Rincon Branch being open only 3 days per week and the Springtown Branch open only one day per week.

The good news is that the Civic Center Library continues to remain open 7 days per week, evenings and weekends for a total of 65 hours per week of access to the facility and the library collection of varied materials as well as the availability of free public computers.

Much of our ability to cope with these significant reductions has been helped by the addition of numerous self service options at all facilities. These include patron self check, automated materials return and the virtual library which allows our patrons to conduct much of their business online either in the library or from home.

Staff continues to work on a partially grant funded project to expand access to the Springtown Branch Library. The “Easy Access” library has received additional funding from the City Capital Improvement Budget in order to move forward with providing more self serve options and greater access at this site.

We continue to be committed to offering the best possible resources and services with limited staffing and financial resources. I continue to expect that the community will use the library and its wealth of resources and continue to bear with us as we cope in these difficult times .
Our volunteer opportunities continue to grow. If anyone would like to volunteer, please contact Librarian Blanche Angelo at 925-373-5500 Ext. 5574. Your help is very much appreciated.


As previously mentioned, the Library is developing expanded service options for the Springtown Branch Library. The Easy Access Springtown Library will be an innovative service model providing a mix of staffed and unstaffed service hours.

In the Easy Access model, the Springtown Branch will continue to be open and staffed on Tuesdays from 12 noon to 8:00 pm. During the remaining six days of the week, patrons will have access to an unstaffed part of the building during the same hours that the Civic Center Library is open. Patrons will be able to access that part of the building using key card access (similar to Anytime Fitness). During non-staffed hours the main library collection will be closed off using a grill gate, similar to how the Post Office operates during non-open hours.

The Library is considering what services to offer during the unstaffed library hours. If you are interested in using the “Easy Access” Library, please participate in the survey to voice your opinion about which of the possible services would be most important to you. The survey can be accessed through July 15 at or in print at the Springtown Branch Library during open hours. Please tell us what you would like to see in this innovative opportunity.


Summer reading is for everyone at the Livermore Public Library! Children who are independent readers can participate in the “Dream Big, Read!” Summer Reading Program while pre-readers are invited to take part in a special reading program designed just for them. Teens entering grades 6-12 can participate in the teen reading program where they can earn raffle tickets and enter to win exciting prizes. Even adults can join in with a program tailored just for them. Prizes will be awarded in all programs, with the goal of reading, sharing what was read, and having fun! Sign up at any of the Livermore Public Library locations starting June 8. All programs run through August 11, 2012.

“Dream Big, Read!” is the theme of the 2012 Summer Reading Program for children who are independent readers ages four and over. The Summer Reading Program encourages children to improve their reading skills over the summer, while earning prizes along the way. Children can earn book charms to put on their lanyard as they progress through the game. Additional prizes will include swim, bowling and rock climbing passes, coupons to a variety of Livermore food vendors, an Olympic-style medal and a presentation to the City Council as a Super Reader. As an added bonus, readers who bring in their lanyards from last year will receive two prize points toward their goal.

Younger pre-readers, including babies, can enroll in the Pre-Readers’ Program. In this Program, parents and their children read together and receive points and stickers along the way. Those who complete the reader’s log win a special prize!

Complementing the Reading Programs will be a host of activities and entertainment—from storytimes and crafts to magicians, music and dance from a variety of cultures, cowgirls, wild animals, puppets, and performing dogs! These events are free and open to the public, however, in order to participate in the reading programs and win prizes, registration is required. This year, you may register online beginning June 8 at, then come in to pick up your reading log and start reading!

Teens who love to win prizes are invited to join in the summer reading fun as well. Participants in the teen summer reading program are eligible to win a Barnes and Noble Nook, a Macy’s gift card, movie passes, or a Target gift card! Go online at starting June 8 to register and begin recording the books you have read. For every two books you read, you receive a raffle ticket to put toward the raffle prize of your choice. Read 10 books and receive a small prize and an extra raffle ticket!

Don’t let the kids have all the fun! In addition to Summer Reading programs for children and teens, this year the Livermore Public Library will hold its fourth annual Summer Reading program for adults. Go online at starting June 8 to register and begin listing your books and writing your comments about what you have read. For every three books you read, up to a maximum of 12, you will be entered in a raffle for a chance to win a Barnes and Noble Nook, movie tickets, restaurant gift certificates, or a Target gift card!


Are you looking for some exciting summer activities? Check out the new Discover & Go Museum Pass service at the Livermore Public Library. As part of the Discover & Go Network, the library now offers cardholders free and discounted passes to a number of Bay Area museums and cultural institutions including Aquarium of the Bay, Bay Area Discovery Museum, Bedford Gallery, Cartoon Art Museum, Exploratorium, Lawrence Hall of Science, Lindsay Wildlife Museum, Tech Museum of Innovation, and many more.

Passes can be printed online at or by going to the Library’s website at and clicking “Museum Passes” on the left, under “Quick Links”. Cardholders can search for available passes at a particular venue or can search for passes available on a particular date. Patrons without Internet access can reserve a pass by visiting any branch of the Livermore Public Library. Each patron account can have two active reservations at a time, using a regular library card. Temporary library cards created online are not eligible for this service until activated as a permanent library card by visiting one of the Library’s branches.

Monday, January 23, 2012


The Library’s fiscal year ended June 30, 2011 and again this year Livermore library patrons borrowed over 1 million items during the year! Most amazing about this mark, is the fact that both branch libraries are open fewer hours than in past years, yet Livermore patrons continue to use their libraries extensively.

The total borrowing for 2001-2011 was 1,014, 644, item borrowed. However, this number is down 8% from the past year and does reflect the reduction in hours. Reference transactions also decreased, down 28% at 64, 493 questions asked. This decline reflects the reductions in staffing as a result of layoffs resulting in fewer staff to help patrons. Program attendance continues to be popular with 22,000 attendees at over 500 programs throughout the year.

The Library at year end had 55,769 active borrowers or 65% of the population served of 85,312. The library collection increased by .5% for total holdings of 264,734 items. Staffing levels declined for the past year, down 5 FTE Contributions of volunteer hours were just under 30 hours of service provided by community volunteers for special projects.

The Civic Center Library remained open with 65 hours per week. However, the Rincon Branch Library has lost half its hours from 53 per week to 24 and the Springtown Branch Library is only open one day per week, for 8 hours. These reductions in hours have been caused by significant cuts in the library’s operating budget. Even with budget cuts, the Library had a busy year and remains one of the best bargains in Livermore.


The new bus turnaround on the south end of the Civic Center campus adjacent to the Civic Center Library is up and running. This new turnaround allows bus route #11 from the Tri Valley RAPID bus system to service the Civic Center Library. The buses go south on So. Livermore Ave, turning into the turnaround just before reaching Arbor Vista and then travel through the south parking lot of the library back to So. Livermore Ave. A new bus stop and shelter has been placed on the south side of the library plaza.

This project was funded by the Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority and managed by the City. We are very pleased that bus service is now available at the Civic Center Library. In the past, the closest bus stop was the one at Pacific Avenue which required a walk to the library, especially difficult in inclement weather.

Buses are currently seen at the Civic Center four or five times a day during the week. As yet, no weekend service is planned.


It’s almost here—the annual Livermore Reads Together celebration! In February, the community will be reading John Hersey’s A Bell for Adano. Supported by a generous contribution from the Friends, the month long celebration has been kicked off with a special program featuring KQED Forum host Michael Krasny on Sunday, January 22 at 2 pm at the Civic Center Library.

During the month a photographic exhibit of scenes from World War II Sicily is on display in the Civic Center Art Gallery. Other events include a USO Dance featuring music of the 1940”s by the Royal Society Jazz Orchestra, a family program featuring the Alleluia Ringers, a handbell performance group, a program featuring Italian cooking with Viola Buitoni, programs on World War Ii in Italy and a special showing at the Vine theater of the classic movie, The Secret of Santa Vittoria. All of the events are listed on the library website and in brochures available at all libraries.


Through a onetime expenditure of accumulated State grant funds, the Civic Center Library has up dated its materials handling equipment or, as fondly called by the staff, “the Dragon”. The new dragon junior or “DJ” for short, provided by the EnvisionWare Corporation, is a state of the art automation solution to the check-in of library materials. It runs quietly at less than 55dbd and is designed to use standard electrical power rather than compressed air. It has a much smaller footprint than the old system and will open up additional space in the book return area of the library.

The user interface into the system is an automated, self-service return window which provides the patron the option of a receipt for returned materials. As items are placed into the return slot they are checked in. It is much more reliable and efficient in checking in the over 900,000 items borrowed each year from the Civic Center Library. Rapid, automated self-service check in improves the success of self service in the library.


It is that time of year again when the City and the Library begin working on the next two year budget, 2012 to 2014. The recent budget message to the City Council indicates that money is still tight. The City has done a good job of holding down expenses but revenues have failed to reach anticipated levels. As a result, the City came in over budget at the end of June ( the end of the fiscal year) and had to borrow from reserves to balance the budget. There is no indication that revenues will increase by much in the coming budget cycle as cities always lag behind the general economy so the City is again in a hold the line situation. If any new services or expansion to existing ones is to be done, money will need to be taken from something existing to do so. At this time we do not anticipate any more layoffs nor do we anticipate additional reductions in library hours. However, we will still need to be very diligent in our spending.

The Civic Center Library continues to remain open 7 days per week, evenings and weekends for a total of 65 hours per week of access to the facility and the library collection of varied materials as well as the public computers. The Rincon Branch Library is currently open 3 days per week and is well used on those three days. Continuing programs at this facility include storytimes, the Homework Hangout and Lawyers in the Library.

Staff are working on a grant funded project to expand access to the Springtown Branch Library. That facility is currently open on Tuesdays from 12 to 8. The Springtown community has adapted quite well and the branch is very busy on its one day of operation. It is hoped that additional self service adaptations can make access to the facility and its materials available other days as well.

The City is asking for input from citizens on the budget and what they think the City's priorities should be. A citizen engagement workshop will be held on Thursday, February 16 at the Robert Livermore Community Center from 7:00 PM until 10:00 PM. What makes Livermore a great place to live, work and play? Let us know with a "penny for your thoughts"!

Library staff continues to be committed to offering the best possible resources and services with limited staffing and financial resources. I continue to expect that the community will use the library and its wealth of resources and continue to bear with us as we cope in these difficult times .

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bad News

Unfortunately, I must report that the news on the City’s budget continues to be dire. Due to the economic downturn, the City has had to find ways to cut over five million dollars from its budget this year. Further complicating our budget dilemma have been the budget take-aways by the State which have been in the millions of dollars. Our sales tax revenue is down 26% and property tax is down 10%, even before the values reset. Today, Livermore has 53 fewer employees than it did a year ago due to service cut-backs, attrition, lay-offs and other cost-cutting measures. Revenue declines continue from the lingering housing crisis and losses in sales tax revenue. Ongoing discussions with the City’s bargaining units have not been as fruitful as hoped. As a result, each City department was asked to propose an additional 5% in expenditure cuts.

Sadly, for the Library, the latest round of cuts has reduced the Springtown Branch Library hours to one day a week effective November 1, 2010. This reduction has resulted in the layoff of 2FTE employees. The Springtown Branch Library is now open Tuesdays, from noon until 8 PM. The Springtown Library will specialize in express services which include popular, heavily borrowed current materials such as new books, DVD’s and audio books. On the night that the City Council voted to close the Springtown library, they also voted to cut over half a million dollars each from both the police and fire departments.

The Civic Center Library remains open, seven days a week, evenings and weekends and has all of the programs and services enjoyed at Springtown plus many, many more. We sincerely hope Springtown patrons will continue to use the Livermore Library, even if only one day per week. We apologize for any difficulty they may experience in getting to the library on that day; however, library services continue to be available.

Library staff continues to be committed to offering the best possible resources and services with our limited staffing at our two other library sites. We have upgraded our self check out software and very much appreciate the willingness of our patrons to help us by checking out their own materials. We continue to expect that the community will use the library and its wealth of resources and will bear with us as we cope in these difficult times .

The Friends of the Library continue to help us fill some of the gaps in our budget by providing money for many of our programs. They generously fund our Authors and Arts programs and our upcoming Livermore Reads Together program. Several generous donations contributed to another successful Summer Reading Program. The donations of library materials that come to the Library and the Friends have helped to supplement our limited materials budget.

Our volunteer opportunities continue to grow. If anyone would like to volunteer, please contact Librarian Blanche Angelo at 925-373-5500 Ext. 5574. Your help is very much appreciated.

Livermore Reads Together

In February 2011, residents of Livermore will again be encouraged to read the same book. This year that book is 1906 by James Dalessandro. This novel centers on the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire.

Supported by a generous contribution from the Friends of the Livermore Library, the month long celebration will be kicked off on Sunday, January 23, 2011 at 2 PM with a presentation by the author, James Dalessandro. A reception will follow featuring famous San Francisco food treats and turn of the century music by Greg Pane.

During the month the earthquake theme will represented with a variety of exciting programs and displays. The Civic Center Art Gallery will include replicas of newspaper headlines from the time along with photographs and music of the time.

Confirmed programs include :

Jack London: Eyewitness to the Great Quake performance by Live Oakes Educational theater
James Smith speaking on Lost Landmarks of San Francisco
Frisky Frolics/Tin Pan Alley Troubadours
Disaster Preparedness presentation
Dramatic reading from the book
Silent films of the earthquake
US Geological Survey presentation on earthquakes
Vine Cinema showing of the movie "San Francisco"
Livermore at the time of the earthquake presentation

Additional exciting programs are in the planning stages. All of the events will be listed on the library website and in brochures available at all libraries.

Local book discussion groups are encouraged to select 1906 as their book choice for February. Book club kits, available for check out, include copies of the book, discussion questions and tips for leading book discussions.

Library Snapshot Day

In conjunction with a national event, libraries across California participated in Snapshot: One Day in the Life of California Libraries on Monday, October 4. All three Livermore libraries collected information, comments and photographs from events in this typical library day.Patrons were asked to complete a form telling us why the library is important to them, why they visited the library on this day and any other feedback they wish to give us. The purpose of the day was to promote libraries and provide indisputable proof that libraries consistently provide invaluable services to our community.

The results of One Day in the Life of the Livermore Public Library showed we had 56,488 card holders. Attendance on that day numbered 1,420 visitors and 3,269 items were borrowed. Staff answered 205 reference questions in person and 42 via phone, e-mail or text messaging. Over 600 library patrons used our computers. There were 2 children’s storytimes with an attendance of 117. Eighteen people received literacy tutoring and eleven students received help in the Homework Help Center at the Rincon Branch Library.

Comments included “ It’s a place of quiet peace, a place to contemplate and dream, a place to explore new worlds and people”; “ The library is a tremendous community resource”; The library is my get away place!”; “Knowledge is power…” ; “Very friendly people and clean environment”. Someone even wrote a poem about the library!

The Livermore Public Library continues to be a valuable and well loved community asset.

Monday, June 7, 2010


In these days of tight money, the Livermore Public Library continues to be one of the best summer bargains around. Whether you are doing a staycation or just looking for summer fun, the Summer Reading Program has something for everyone.

The theme of this year’s Summer Reading Game for children is Make a Splash @ Your Library. As in the past, the game is designed for independent readers who read and report on books for prizes. However, the game itself has be revamped to keep up with the changing conditions at the library. Prizes this year are book charms, swimming or bowling coupons and a medal and City Council presentation for those who read 100 books over the summer. The game begins on June 11 and finishes on August 14.

Kids can attend several performance, storytime or craft programs at all facilities. This year the performance programs have again been generously underwritten by the Friends of the Livermore Library. Performers include magicians, jugglers, music, circus performers, wild animals, drummers, and glow-in-the-dark puppets!

Read To Me
Younger pre-readers, including babies, can enroll in Ducky’s Game. In Ducky’s Game, parents and their children complete reading and other fun activities and receive points and stickers along the way. Those who complete the game board win a special prize!

Teen Summer Reading
Teens this summer are invited to participate in the Teen Reading Program . Teens can win prizes by reading books and writing a short review on their game card. If they complete their game card by reading and reviewing six (6) books, they will win a “Make Waves @ Your Library” t-shirt!

Adult Summer Reading
In addition to Summer Reading programs for children and teens, this year the Library will hold its second annual Summer Reading program for adults – Water Your Mind - Read! Although families are encouraged to read together, an adult does not have to have a child in the summer reading program to join. In this program, adults read books, write short reviews on their entry form, and turn it in for a prize and to be entered in a drawing for one of the grand prizes, a “Book and Garden Lover’s Basket.”

Teen ‘Zine
The next edition of, Fusion, the Livermore Public Library “teen zine,” is available, providing a creative outlet for teen artists and authors of various ethnicities to share their talents and their unique perspectives on the world. This edition is again funded by a $2500 from the Rotarian Foundation of Livermore and a donation of $1500 from the Friends. Created by teens for teens, Fusion combines the artistic talents of Livermore teen artists, poets, and writers into a free table top publication throughout the community.Check it out at

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Budget Situation

Unfortunately, the news on the City’s budget continues to be bleak. The City has just completed preparations for the next two year budget, 2010 to 2012. Revenue declines continue from the lingering housing crisis and losses in sales tax revenue. Despite the best efforts of all of the City departments, a $6M gap exists between expenses and revenues for the 2010-2011 fiscal year and a $7.5M gap for the 2011-2012 fiscal year. Previous departmental budgets are financially unsustainable, so the City cannot continue to provide City services at present levels. Ongoing discussions have identified across the board service reductions to address the City’s on-going structural deficit. Each City department was asked to reduce expenditures by an additional 10%. Unfortunately, some of these reductions will result in additional layoffs.

For the library, this will mean the elimination of a vacant Librarian position and the reorganization of our Technical Services Department with the reduction of a Library Assistant and two part-time Library Clerks. Due to seniority in the organization, several staff will be relocating to the public service areas. We will also be relying more heavily on self service for our patrons as there will be less staff available for assistance, particularly at the Civic Center Library. We are not alone as all other departments in the City are experiencing cuts as well including Police. We can only hope that things will get better over time.

On a positive note, the library faired very well in the community budget workshops. The top three city services as ranked by attendees were public safety, library and economic development. When asked to reduce, maintain or increase funding for city services, the library branches received the highest votes for increased funding from the community budget workshop attendees. Therefore, when budget cuts were to be made, it was felt that the branches had already suffered enough and were not to be cut further. Cuts in hours for the Civic Center Library were considered but it was felt that the facility should remain open for use but with less staffing. Therefore, the Civic Center library will continue to offer 63 hours of service, seven days a week, evenings and weekends. However, there will most likely be longer waits for service and a greater emphasis on the use of the self check machines.

Library staff continues to be committed to offering the best possible resources and services with limited staffing. I continue to expect that the community will use the library and its wealth of resources and bear with us as we cope in these difficult times.

The Friends of the Library are helping to fill some gaps in our budget by providing money for many of our programs. The Friends are supporting our Paws to Read program and the Free2 Succeed Job Center. The Friends have helped support our limited materials acquisitions by funding the popular ReferenceUSA database.

Our volunteer opportunities continue to grow. If anyone would like to volunteer, please contact Librarian Blanche Angelo at 925-373-5500 Ext. 5574. Your help is very much appreciated.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Difficult Times

As many of you know by now, the Library and the City have been hit by the recent economic downturn. The bottom line for the General Fund of the City, which funds library services, is that the revenues do not match the current budgeted expenditures. The Library, along with all other City departments has made cuts to meet this shortfall. The following cuts have been made to the library’s current budget and to the budget for the next 2 year budget cycle:

An additional $50,000 cut to cuts already made in funds for temporary, hourly workers. This area of the budget will now be down to the amount of money needed for the remainder of the year to fund library pages, delivery drivers and IT assistants who help the public with our computers. There will be a little bit of money available for fill behind for absences but very little. In the next 2 year budget this will also be a cut, however, staff will do a better job of spreading the needs for fill behind throughout the year and there will be more money available for this than right now. The impact of this budget cut will be longer waits for service systemwide, fewer staff on desks and possible limited time devoted to programming.

An $80,000 cut in the $ 362,000 library materials budget spread over all three library sites and in all library materials. This will reduce our materials budget to $282,000 which is 6% of total budget and $3.34 per capita. The recommended portion of a library budget for library materials is 10% to 12%. This is lower than many of the Bay Area libraries of our size. This cut will result in fewer library materials, longer waits for new and popular materials as a result of fewer copies, less depth of collection and the possible discontinuation of electronic databases.

The most difficult cut and the one with the greatest impact is the reduction of the open hours of the library’s two branches. The hours of operation for each of the branch libraries will be from 53 hours per week to 23 hours per week. Each site will be open three days per week and closed mornings of their one evening open. A single compliment of staff alternates between sites. The current Rincon staff is operating both branches. The Springtown staff has moved to the Civic Center Library and there have been layoffs as a result of this cut in funding. The new branch hours are posted elsewhere on thei site. Staff intends to continue to try to deliver as many any of our popular and important programs currently offered at the branches such as the Homework Hangout, Lawyers in the Library, Family Storytime. However, with reduced hours the days of these programs have changed as well as the amount of times the programs are offered.

I have spent over 24 years getting our library where it is today. I am not pleased about these changes which are taking us backward. However, we had no choice as there is just not enough money to continue to provide services at the levels we have previously enjoyed. For the moment there are no hour changes proposed at the Civic Center. We are not alone as all other departments in the City are experiencing cuts as well including Police. We can only hope that things will get better over time.

We are increasing our volunteer opportunities and many in the community have stepped forward to help us put on programs such as Paws to Read, the Homework Center at the Rincon Branch and as craft assistants for children’s programs. Assistance in the maintenance of the library by volunteering as shelf stewards has helped us keep the libraries organized and looking great. If anyone would like to volunteer, please contact Librarian Blanche Angelo at 925-373-5500 Ext. 5574. Your help is very much appreciated.


There are some positive things happening for the library. Wells Fargo Bank has given us a $5,000 grant to support the Free2 Succeed Job Center at the Civic Center Library. Representatives from Wells Fargo presented the check to members of the Library Board in front of the Civic Center Library at 10:30 am on Friday, December 18.
The Free2 Succeed Job Center offers one on one career counseling sessions. Sessions are averaging 50 per month with a waiting list for scheduling of 35 to 40 people. These private, free sessions offer career planning advice, techniques for successful interviewing and skills for online job applications as well as resume suggestions and critiques with general career and job counseling thrown in.

The Annual Livermore Reads Together campaign is happening again in February this year. The chosen book is John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley In Search of America. Supported by a generous contribution from the Friends, the month long celebration has been kicked off with a presentation by Tom Steinbeck, John Steinbeck’s son on Sunday, January 24 at 2 pm at the Civic Center Library. This exciting event featured a display of a 1950’s travel trailer and entertainment by Extended Roots.

During the month a Steinbeck photographic exhibit will be on display in the Civic Center Art Gallery. Other events include TV host Doug McConnell, movie night with the feature film Grapes of Wrath at the Vine Theater, programs highlighting dogs, road trips, Steinbeck and much, much more. All of the events are listed on this library website and in brochures available at all libraries.
We hope everyone will read this exciting book and take part in all the wonderful programs being presented in conjunction with Livermore Reads Together.