Jun 24 2011

Oakland Library Closure Decision Delayed Again

On the evening of Tuesday, June 21, several hundred Oakland library supporters gathered at Oakland City Hall.  They filled every seat on the main floor of the chamber, both galleries, the grand staircase leading up to the chamber as well as the amphitheater in the plaza.  They had come to oppose the proposed budget that would close most of the branch libraries and  drastically reduce services in the four remaining libraries.  (See library articles.)  However, the Oakland City Council, once more, postponed consideration of the city’s FY 2011-12 budget, as it had on June 7.

The Oakland Council did, however, approve the second reading of the increase in the Measure Q parcel tax, the Library Services Retention and Enhancement Act of 2004.  (The first reading was approved on June 7.) Although the amount of the increase was not specified, it is presumed to be the maximum allowable, 5%.  The Oakland City budget is scheduled for discussion at a special meeting on Tuesday, June 28.  After hours of fruitless enthusiasm to defend the threatened branches, the library supporters gave up their seats, and Oakland Zoo supporters eagerly took them.

Facing similar financial constraints, Hayward’s public library adopted a new operating model called “Fines Free.”  For $2.99 per month, patrons can borrow any three items in the Hayward library –books, DVDs, or CDs—for as long as they wish, with no due dates.  This option brings in extra money and keeps some of its patrons happy about not having to pay late fees.   Each time they return items, they can take out more. Plans range up to $8.99 per month for 10 items.  Other Hayward library users continue to borrow library materials at no charge, but must return items on time to avoid late fees.

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