The library can get better
Many people have voiced concern lately about the impending review of the Sonoma County Library’s Joint Powers Agreement. The JPA is the document underlying the governance of the library system.
A small but powerful faction of the library administration has been spreading a campaign of fear. They variously claim that if the JPA is revised at all, the whole agreement will be gutted, the library’s funding will be jeopardized, the county supervisors will take over the running of the library and the library will be laid open to censorship.
Last week members of SOCOSOL (Sonoma County Save Our Libraries) met with Supervisors Mike McGuire and Efren Carillo. Both supervisors offered complete assurances that the library funding is not open for discussion in the current review of the Joint Powers Agreement. Both supervisors agree that there was never any intention to rewrite the section of the JPA governing the library’s funding.
Furthermore, the Library Commission is well aware of this fact, because the supervisors personally informed the chairperson to that effect.
It is worth knowing that the Sonoma County Library system had several major funding crises after the JPA was signed, from 1978 through 1987, and was bailed out at different times by the Board of Supervisors, the State Legislature and the cities. In these cases, the JPA was not what protected the library; it was the fact that the community supported and wanted a library.
The current administration does not trust the public and wants to shut it out of any debate on library priorities, hence the commission’s refusal to even address the issue of restoring hours.
All the discussions of the subcommittee reviewing the JPA will be open to the public. Underlying the fear that any revision of the JPA will wreck the library is the unspoken assumption that the library cannot get better; it can only get worse. Now is the time for concerned citizens to come forward and make their suggestions for improvement. The library can get better. Make your voice heard.
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Karen Guma is a retired reference librarian with the Sonoma County Library.