With encouragement from its community support network, the Marin County Free Library is measuring its successes and prioritizing its services as it evaluates a local tax initiative that expires in 2015.
The library received widespread voter support in June 2010 for a five-year parcel tax measure to bring local libraries up to date, prevent closures, provide programming for all ages, provide family literacy services, maintain collections of books, DVDs and other materials and improve accessibility for disabled customers.
Virginia Schultz, a Friends of the Marin County Free Library board member and leader of the grassroots citizens group called Yes for Marin Libraries, is championing the effort to obtain feedback and keep the Marin County Free Library strong, vital and up-to-date.
“I think Measure A has been really important to maintain service, upgrade our facilities and make them more efficient for people,” Schultz said. “I would like to see Measure A continue and would like to know what the public wants for our library. Is it more children’s services? More for adults? More resources for people out of work? Most of all I want to make sure we can maintain the hours and have good materials available.”
A $25,000 customer satisfaction survey, to be paid with contributions from the Friends and the Foundation, is on the consent agenda for Oct. 22 meeting of the Marin County Board of Supervisors.
As Measure A’s “sunset” date approaches, the Friends of Marin County Free Library and the Library Foundation are supporting the use of a resident survey about the annual $49-per-year tax. Library Director Sara Jones said the feedback would help in updating strategic plans, assess the use of Measure A resources and clarify residents’ priorities as her department plans for the next 10 to 20 years.
The passage of Measure A came after the library made more than $1.6 million in budget cuts in 2008-2010 because of declining revenues and state budget cuts. The tax measure erased an ongoing deficit of about
$1 million per year and generates more than $2.3 million in yearly support for the library. The funding has increased library hours, increased available materials including e-books and provided popular services such as the Lucky Day collection designed to make popular materials far more available in our libraries. The largest part of Measure A funding – about 74 percent – is dedicated to staffing to keep libraries open.
Jones, who was hired in July, has proactively addressed questions and recommendations presented by the Marin County Civil Grand Jury in a May 2013 report, including increasing the type and depth of Measure A reports to the Library Commission, which was designated as the oversight committee for the parcel tax funds. Additionally, Jones has addressed communication and morale among staff, appropriate recognition for the Friends of the Library and the need for comprehensive planning efforts to ensure the Marin County Free Library operates to its best capacity.
The library staff encourages customers to share feedback and make suggestions. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or share your thoughts by submitting comments on the library website.