Oakland, CA - With a huge sigh of relief, the Oakland Public Library learned that the City's budget for the 2011-12 Fiscal Year will not impact the Library's budget significantly. As a result, the Library will not be forced to close any branches or reduce its hours of service.
With the City facing a $58 million budget deficit, Mayor quan proposed three plans to close the gap. One option, referred to as the "all cuts" budget, called for the closure of 14 branch libraries, in addition to a number of services provided by the library. Lay offs would have reduced Library staff to a mere 20% of its current numbers.
Thankfully, the library is not faced with that dark scenario.
The Lbirary received strong community support as various budget options were discussed by city council in the weeks leading up to the June 30 budget deadline. Grassroots organizations such as Save Our Libraries, local bloggers, and letters from individuals to local op-ed forums voiced a clear opposition to the "all cuts" plan. The public outcry on behalf of the Oaklnad Public Library was well reasoned and heartfelt, and likely influenced the City Council as it worked towards less controversial alternatives.
"The community spoke loud and clear: their libraries are anchors in their neighborhoods and add to the quality of the lives of their families," said Library Director Carmen Martinez. "It's especially critical during these times that Oakland Public Library is maintained as a core service of the City of Oakland. With high unemployment and so much uncertainty, families are cutting 'luxury' expenses, and as a result our libraries have experienced such huge increases in their use. Libraries make WiFi, Internet, books, popular DVDs, programs for Children, Teens, and Adults, job search assistance and workshops, tools to get that garden roto-tlled, and adult literacy programs that help change people's lives available to everyone, for free."
The City's labor unions, including the police and firefighter unions, agreed to new contracts that included concessions on furlough days and pension contributions.
Please visit www.oaklandlibrary.org for more information about the Library and its services.