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Even though in most if not all local jurisdictions, library services are completely discretionary, the community is very aware of the value of libraries and continues to support them. But we continue to have many funding challenges. Here are some highlights of the history of public libraries in California.

The California Legislature passed the Rogers Act in 1878 which authorized public support via a special tax levy by incorporated municipalities to allow for the creation and maintenance of free public libraries and reading rooms. Three public libraries organized before the Rogers Act - Marysville, Los Angeles and San Jose. The Rogers Act itself was a result of public library organization efforts in San Francisco and contained some particular provisions related to San Francisco. Within two years of the establishment of the Rogers Act, there were municipal libraries in at least 12 cities in the state.

In 1880, the California Legislature passed a general library law without the special provisions of the Rogers Act. Many city libraries were formed in the 1880's and had been in existence previously as social or subscription libraries. Between the late 1880's and the early 1900's, most libraries formed were city libraries. There also were some library districts, union high school districts and counties that maintained public libraries. But the next major library development effort was the passage of the legislation to establish county libraries in 1909 which opened the path for library service to all state residents. Some initial flaws in this legislation were addressed in a revised version passed in 1911. The current library organization structures reflect these early ground-breaking pieces of legislation.

Highlights from the January 2007 Library Journal annual library budget report, "Keeping Pace"

  • Libraries continue to be very busy.
    Circulation per capita is 9.25 in 06/07, a 3% increase over 05/06.
    CA circulation per capita is 5.3 in 05/06.
  • California is not able to offer the same access as other states.
    National average for open hours is 59 hours per week, California average is 37.
  • Material budgets are increasing from 05/06 to 06/07 - 4.6%
    Total budget growth from 05/06 to 06/07 - 4.7%
    Expected budget growth from 06/07 to 07/08 - 5.5%
  • Appears to be an upward trend in reliance on local funds.
    Increased from 79% in 05/06 to 82% in 06/07
    Support from state/federal funds reduced from 12% in 05/06 to 10% in 06/07
    May be impacted by funding changes in Ohio
  • Very little reliance on state funding in California.
    Primary state funding is the Public Library Foundation program, providing direct support to public libraries
    For 06/07 and 07/08, $21 million is proposed for our 37 million population.
    In contrast, consider Maryland where $35 million is in place for 5 million population.
  • All libraries report continued increased use of the Internet.
    A 21% increase was noted from 04/05 to 05/06. The most significant problem noted by 74% of the libraries is inadequate number of workstations. This is being somewhat addressed by wifi and circulating laptops. In contrast to this heavy usage, libraries spend about 2% of their budgets on sustaining or improving public access computing.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

We cannot discuss the good news for libraries without talking about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They represent the Andrew Carnegie of the 21st century. They have made huge investments in hardware and software for libraries and are continuing to do so. But they also are aware that the sustainability of public access computing is a real challenge. And even further, the public library must be a thriving community entity to be able to provide a venue for active public access computing.

One way to make sure the library remains a vital community asset is getting the word out. And the Gates Foundation has done a great job of that by producing an exciting DVD Your Public Library: Keeping Your Community Connected. The Sutter County Library is one of 4 public libraries featured in this 8-minute production. There is also a handsome companion brochure and libraries can get copies of this material by contacting the Gates Foundation at This is professionally-produced material well-suited for presentations to governing boards or community groups.

I would like to review some of their key activities and priorities planned for the next few years as the Gates Foundation priorities are very visible and have a strong influence on the public library landscape.

Priorities are as follows:

  • Increase percentage of libraries that regularly upgrade their computers
  • Increase percentage of libraries with high-speed Internet connectivity
  • Help library staff get technical support and training
  • Support libraries in their efforts to secure adequate and stable funding for computers and connectivity

Activities include commissioning research on the following topics:

  • Annual surveys that track trends in connectivity and public funding for libraries
  • Impact of free technology access in public libraries
  • Advocacy vehicles and messages that would encourage support for public library funding
  • Increase library usage of federal E-rate funds and identify barriers to high-speed connectivity.

In the Library Journal survey that I mentioned earlier, a number of libraries expressed concerns about access to appropriate bandwidth to be able to provide all the information and e-services that our customers require. The Gates Foundation recognizes these concerns and has provided funding for the American Library Association Office of Information Technology Policy in Washington DC to investigate these issues. This research effort includes visits to 7 states (California, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio) and California was first state to be visited. It was great that we were selected as a site to visit, probably based on the complexity of activity here, but it was a challenge to coordinate visits for this 3-person research team. It was a good exercise in getting State library representatives connected to the power players in broadband - and it helped that we could mention Gates Foundation funding as an intro. We met with representatives from the California Public Utilities Commission, the California Emerging Technology Fund, CENIC(Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California) and the Governor's Broadband Taskforce. The results of this research will be released later this year but the immediate benefit is the awareness on the part of decision-makers about the role that public libraries can play in serving as the community's connectivity center.

The Gates Foundation is continuing their commitment to hardware and software in public libraries. California participated in their upgrade program in 2006. They have targeted 11 states in 2007 and 21 states in 2008 for upgrades. The new twist in the 2007 and 2008 programs is that Gates funds will have to be matched by local funds, 25% in the first year and 50% in the second year. I think this is an important change in strategy as I believe that many local jurisdictions believe that the Gates Foundation will take care of public access computing needs for libraries and that is just not the case.

The Gates Foundation is not the only entity that is doing great work on behalf of libraries. I wanted to highlight some other studies that have been released since we last met that also demonstrate the value of libraries to our communities. I would encourage all of you to ask your library directors to review these studies with you.

Late last year, a study of nine Ohio library systems was released that showed that the library services in those systems were valued at nearly four times the dollars spent by them. The study done by a firm specialized in state and local budget and tax policy concludes that the libraries' expenditures of $75 million returned a direct quantifiable benefit of $238 million. Also, the libraries add significant value to their users and communities that cannot be quantified. Site for info is on your handout.

The Urban Libraries Council has recently issues two important reports:

  1. Making Cities Stronger: Public Library Contributions to Local Economic Development is an excellent report prepared in cooperation with the Urban Institute. The report focuses on 4 key library service areas that support economic development - early literacy, library employment and career resources, small business programs and resources and library as a destination that drives other business activity. Download this report >>
  2. The Engaged Library: Chicago Stories of Community Building. This report tells the story of 3 Chicago branches, a branch that has been in the community for many years, a brand new facility and one that has been renovated. The one common factor among these branches is that the staff has invested much effort in relationship-building - making sure that the library builds its program on the strengths and assets of the community and is also seen by community leaders as an asset. Key findings are as follows: Get out of the library, find the community leaders, be creative, support and contribute to the uniqueness of the community, support local business, make the library a community center, create a community-minded culture in the library staff and volunteers and support library investments that jumpstart revitalization of the community. Download this report >>

Key California Library Legislation:
Rogers Act - 1878, County Free Library Act - 1909

"Keeping Pace" Library Journal, January 2007

Annual circulation per capita
    National - 9.25, 3% increase from 05/06
    California - 5.3%

Average open hours per week
    National - 59
    California - 37

National library budget growth from 05/06 to 06/07
    Materials - 4.6%
    Total - 4.7%
    Anticipated from 06/07 to 07/08 - 5.5%

Library funding - state comparison
    California - $21 million/37 million population
    Maryland - $35 million/5 million population

Gates Foundation
    Your Public Library: Keeping Your Community Connected

Key Gates priorities
    Increase percentage of libraries that regularly upgrade their computers
    Increase percentage of libraries with high-speed Internet connectivity
    Help library staff get technical support and training
    Support libraries in securing adequate/stable funding for computers and connectivity

Useful resources
    Value for Money: Southwestern Ohio's Return from Investment in Public Libraries
    Urban Libraries Council, Making Cities Stronger: Public Library Contributions to Local Economic Development
    Urban Libraries Council, The Engaged Library: Chicago Stories of Community Building

Library Leadership: Building Your Trustee Tool Kit

Program Facilitator: Pat Taviss, MLS MAOM

Southern Workshop
Saturday, March 24, 2007, 9:00 am - 1:00 pm

Huntington Beach Public Library
7111 Talbert Avenue., Huntington Beach, CA 92648
Group Facilitators will include Sue Hildreth, Danis Kreimeier, Alan Smith, Jane Jones, and others

Northern Workshop
Saturday, March 10, 2007, 9:00 am - 1:00 pm

Alameda Public Library
1550 Oak Street, Alameda, Ca 94501
Group Facilitators will include Sue Hildreth, Alan Smith, Jane Jones, and others

Fund Raising Notes

  • Parcel tax committee
  • Estate planning-Legacy Society dinners, etc.
  • Endowment Fund
  • High profile committee members:
    --VIP mailing list.
  • Foundations-matching funds
  • Sell "bricks" withy donor names
  • Naming opportunities
  • Consultants
  • Seminars
  • "Planned Giving Roundtable" seminars/training.
  • AFP (Association of Fundraising Professionals)
  • Database of donors-various software products
  • Send appeals in utility bills
  • Support for printing, etc.
  • Strategies for private funding
    --planned giving foundation
    --legacy circle
  • How to reach the donors
    --Friends of the library
    --payroll deduction

Connecting-Libraries And Communities

  1. Help for public awareness campaigns-work with Friends
  2. Library consultant list including state library facilities expert.
  3. CPLA Building a workshop at CLA
  4. In for long haul.
  5. Bond campaigns-complex.
  6. Find one or two key elected officials who can influence library.

Libraries are political!



Advocacy And Legislators

  • Public comment time: Update city council/Board of Supes on what is new and exciting at their library.
  • Offer library services to council members.
  • Get acquainted with city treasurer.
  • Get closer to city manager.
  • PLF $24 million for 180 library systems-push local government bodies to write resolution letters to Governor and Budget Committee.
  • Educate the representative on how the dollars have been spent and will be spent (different communities have different priorities)
  • Legislative Day-tell representatives how money would be spent.
  • The last best resource/info in times of emergency.
  • There will always be internet have-nots.
  • Be persistent. Follow up.
  • Legislator holds community events.
  • Precinct walk for a legislative member.
  • Work on campaign for a candidate.
  • Be willing to talk to the staff person of a legislator.
  • Check out the legislator's web site for events.
  • Some legislators have an office in a library building.
  • Get a library friendly candidate to bring up library funding in a debate forum.
  • Don't burn any bridges.
  • Make libraries the issue!
  • ISSUE: Kids dropped off creating chaos-solution was to get a non-uniformed security person.
  • Librarians are better trained to monitor.
  • Special programs for youth-movies, food.

Library Foundation And Friends

  • Use color-coded library cards geared to level of giving-VIP designation on card.
  • Involve Business Community:
    ---chamber of commerce
    ---business community
    ---president of chamber
    ---mayor and city officials
  • Business discounts tied to library card.
  • City official on Friends-Foundation Board(s).
  • Who is largest property holder in town?
  • Name recognition used in publicity.
  • Any author in town.
  • Editor of town paper or radio stations.
  • Use city council to recognize Friends-Foundation members-give plaque.
  • Use outside station to show library event schedule.
  • School Board Superintendent: library keeps a shelf with books received in school.
  • Friends will help research any topic one time for a business.
  • Directors attend city functions.
  • Develop city-wide annual event like a chili cook off, 5K run, etc.-proceeds to go to the library foundation.

How Library Services/Buildings Are Changing

  • Raised floors
    --heating/cooling under floor.
    --computer wiring.
  • Self-service options
    --reservations online
    --self-check out
    --phone/email notifications.
  • Consistent loan periods.
  • Easy to find services in library-good signage.
  • Community Outreach - sustainability.
    --traveling "business unit"-computers, resume help.
    --senior deliveries-homebound.
    --visit school libraries/partnership of resources
    --juvenile hall partnerships-increased literacy grants; i.e., "Write to Read".
    --partnership with local businesses.
    --Reach Out and Read - healthcare/well-baby checks/guidebooks.
    --diversity programs-teens/ethics/technology.
  • Technology


  1. How do you let community know what you do?
    • Signage - describes service provided. Branding.
    • Marketing collateral - press releases/programs-same recognizable look.
    • Retail marketing techniques - point-of-purchase [markets services]
    • Advertising:
      --Trustees - informed advocates.
      --Local press releases
    • Celebrate "Promises Made…Promises Kept".
    • Name tags-Trustees/Library Staff
  2. How do you find out what community wants?
    • Focus groups
    • Surveys mailed in City water bills.
    • Surveys at check out.
    • Exit surveys
    • Staffing designated as Community Relations Liaison
      --marketing plan-annual
      --tag line for a year; i.e., why buy when you can borrow?

Community Partnership

Who are potential "partners"?

  • city officials and various city departments
  • school boards
  • community: public, private, nonprofits, service groups, churches/religious organizations, specific interest groups and organizations, arts and culture.

How/what do you do to get connected?

  • Meeting place
  • community center
  • advertisement
  • transportation
  • How do you approach?

  • Identify needs and benefits of working together.
  • Identify target
    • authority: director, board
    • go to events
    • ask for specific help
    • offer specific help
    • carry your business card
    • ask for their business card.
    • wear your official badge-be identifiable.
    • get proper i.d.,/contact information


  • Tap into public utilities for funding.
  • Bilingual programming outside the literacy area.
  • CDBG $$
  • Community networking
  • Starbucks-"story time", literacy outreach programs.
  • Role of Commissioner
    --Do's and Don' />--Role/relationships between "communities" AND BOARD
  • Friends/Board Relationship
  • Commission should be diverse-age/ethnicity reflective of community.
  • Where do we get assistance?

Some Of The Information Covered In CPLA Board Effectiveness Training

  • Realize some boards are appointed; some are elected.
  • What are we? Brainstorming, pass on ideas. Policy setting? What is our relationship with city, library director, school district?
  • The City of Banning is a special district-city government has no direct relationship.
  • "Special library district" - school district has no DIRECT relationship.
  • Library director - day-to-day decision making.
  • Library board - responds to special/specific issues, MAKES POLICY, WORKS WITH COMMUNITY
  • CSDA: California Special District Association (library, water, utilities, fire, hospitals).
  • Who should we be communicating with?
  • Do we need to follow the Brown Act? What does that mean?
  • Do we need ethics training?
  • Is there a difference between being called a trustee or a commissioner? Does that reference whether elected or appointed?
  • How do we want to be perceived?
  • What are our specific issues, needs?
  • "YOUR LIBRARY"-presentation in a box
  • Trustees, commissioners (A) Advisory; (B) Adminitrative
    1. Training procedures FOR NEW BOARD MEEMBERS
      a. manual-description of position.
      b. tour through library
      c. packets of info for reference on depts..
      d. plan - accomplishments for year.
    2. Work together for a certain objective
  • Policy - (1) approved by board, (2) carried out by staff.
  • Documents are living and can be changed as changes occur.
  • Influence of trustee/commissioner:
    1. Legislature - can be very important
      A. PLF funding
      B. Local issues
      C. State: bond issues; legislators' aides can be very important
    2. City council
      A. Know council members.
      B. Keep city informed on library activities.
    3. Chamber/Senior Clubs/City Events
      A. Important influence on city.
      B. Attend meetings-be heard.
      C. Listen to citizen comments.
  • Reference librarian - research for trustee WITH DIRECTOR'S APPROVAL only if administrative board.
  • Special district boards - administrative
  • Role of Advisory Board: Represent library at community events and needs to represent community to library.
  • Laws re advisory boards?