Montclair Library, At Risk?

There’s plenty of concern about whether most of Oakland’s libraries can remain open, with the severe budget crunch.

Mayor Jean Quan has laid out three budget options, and Budget A translates into 14 closures — including our Montclair Library.  No one wants this worst-case outcome, given the painful cuts which would impact many city services.

Here’s a recap of the budget options, from District 4 Rep Libby Schaaf:

  • Budget A — Assumes no voluntary employee concessions, so is all-cuts; cuts 395 city jobs.
  • Budget B — Assumes 10-15% concessions from all employees; cuts 162 city jobs.
  • Budget C — Assumes 10-15% concession plus an $80 parcel tax is adopted; cuts 104 city jobs.

Save Oakland Library has outlined all the library closures and cuts caused by Budget A.  There would be only $3.6 million available from general funds, a pittance.  And Measure Q parcel taxes, earmarked for libraries, would evaporate.  Why?  These taxes only get collected if the City funds $9 million minimum from general funds.  (Measure Q contributed around $14 million this past year.)

We hope that Budget A won’t see the light of day!  So let’s move to Budget B which, according to Council Rep Schaaf, will keep the libraries open and hours intact.  She explains this budget scenario:

The total Library budget would actually increase by about $1.3 million and authorized staffing would increase by 1 FTE.  The only change required is shifting $400k in General Fund costs to Measure Q, which staff assures me won’t change services AT ALL.

But believe me, other Councilmembers and I love our libraries and understand their value.  I’m confident that even without full concessions, we’ll be able to preserve current library services and Mayor Quan’s Budget B shows it can be done.

That leaves Budget C, which involves an election and more parcel taxes. It’s a little hard to contemplate that option. Would we even have an election?  Would voters approve another tax, in this climate?  Who knows?

Hey, maybe we will somehow luck out — like Governor Jerry Brown’s recent, surprising revenue projection gift at the state level.

Book Sale and Village Family Fun

In this time of serious budget cuts, the Friends of the Montclair Library have probably never been more important.

The Friends help pay for physical improvements to the library, things like benches, bookdrops, and general upkeep. Here’s your chance to help the helpers, and pick up some new (to you) reading material. They are having a booksale at the library on Saturday from 10am to 3pm. Books range from $0.50 to $2. The selection is wide range of books you ACTUALLY want, including children’s books, classics, and what the Friends call Book Club Books. Think bestsellers only a couple of years old.

On Sunday, the Montclair Village Association hosts its Family Fun Festival 12pm – 5pm in Montclair Park. There’ll be music, food, drink, and plenty of fun for the kids.

The Library Will be Closed, But the Internet’s Open

Between Labor Day, Admissions Day (What?! You don’t celebrate Admissions Day? Shame on you.) and the budget crisis, the library is going to pretty much shut down next week. Wednesday is the one day next week when you will be able to do your library business. Unless you have Internet access, that is.

Montclair's Storybook Library (OPL)

Use the unfortunate library blackout to experiment with the Oakland Public Library’s cool new OverDrive system, which allows patrons to download ebooks and audiobooks to PCs and Macs. The audiobooks play on most MP3 players, including the iPod. You can read the ebooks on your computer with free software, on the Barnes and Noble Nook or the Sony Reader. You can’t use your Kindle or iPad…yet. Start browsing.

While we’re on the subject of the Oakland Public Library, help out your friendly local librarian and take this survey about the library’s website. They are in the process of revamping it and making it easier to use.

Pick a Card, Any Card

Born to fourth-generation circus performers in Algeria, Jean-Paul Valjean has juggling in his blood. His motto: “Don’t laugh, it kept me out of the army.”

Jean-Paul Valjean at Work

The French army’s loss is our gain. Valjean brings his one-man circus to the Montclair Library Tuesday evening. Expect Valjean to twist himself into unusual shapes, juggle with his feet, tell jokes, and pull the odd rabbit from a hat.  A free, fun, family-friendly event on a summer evening, that’s why we love the Oakland Public Library. Tuesday, July 20, 7 pm, 1687 Mountain Boulevard.

Happy 80th Birthday, Montclair Library!

Today was an Oakland-weather day, sunny and perfect for a quick celebration.  Locals and a couple city dignitaries stopped by the Montclair Branch of the Oakland Library to honor our octogenarian:  the Montclair Branch itself.

At today’s event, District 4 Council Rep Jean Quan was on hand to thank Montclair Library Assistant Geremie Celli and Oakland Library Director Carmen Martinez.  My ears perked up when Director Martinez mentioned they intend to reorganize our library’s layout, though we didn’t hear details today.  Then Aurora School’s Head for the Hills race organizers proudly delivered a $275 donation, to wrap up the proceedings.  And we all dug into some nice, fruit-filled birthday cake from Lucky’s.

Throughout May, the Friends of Montclair Library organized and held a series of library programs honoring this 80th year milestone.  The history presentation by Kathleen diGiovanni, an Oakland Heritage Alliance member and city librarian, was very interesting.  We also heard the other book readings and events were pretty well-attended too.

In these times, at least we can celebrate our local library!  Good ‘ole Measure Q requires minimum funding levels for city libraries, though the system did cut back service days last year.  Our Montclair Library is now open five days a week:   Tuesday (12:30 pm – 8:00 pm); Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday (10:00 am – 5:30 pm); and Friday (12:00 pm – 5:30 pm).

Montclair’s storybook library has been welcoming locals since the district started getting settled, and expanded over the years as well.  While it caters to kids, this blogger likes getting lost in the travel books and recently-arrived fiction.  The place is comfortable and inviting, not to mention properly de-molded last year.

So remember to stop by the library this summer to read a paper, check the aisles, hop on a computer or just read in a quiet place.  Besides the weekly story times, there’s a a knitting class for kids (May 26th) and lawyers in the library (June 8th) ahead – just check upcoming events.