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Sacramento Public Library to hold community forums in July

When the Sacramento City Council passed the budget last week, funding for the Sacramento Public Library system was cut by nearly $800,000, and that means the possibility of reduced branch hours and even branch closures.

But deciding just what to cut is a challenge that library staff wants the community to help with.

“We want to talk to the community to see what’s important to them,” said Brenda Haggard, Strategic Communications Officer for the Sacramento Public Library. “We want to make decisions based on what’s important to the people we serve.”

Haggard said the desire is to keep public service intact as much as possible, despite the cuts to funding.

Library staff members are inviting people to attend one of three community forums being held at Sacramento Public Library branches in July.

The forums are offered at the following dates and times:
Wednesday, July 13
6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.
McKinley Branch, 601 Alhambra Blvd.

Thursday, July 14
6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.
North Natomas Branch, 4660 Via Ingoglia

Saturday, July 16
10:30 a.m. – noon
Southgate Branch, 6132 66th Ave.

The forums will include a brief discussion of what has happened to the library system over the past few years and an outline of the current financial situation.

An open question-and-answer session will follow, giving attendees the opportunity to brainstorm with library staff about what’s most important to library users.

“We need to find ways to take the funding that we have available to us and make the most effective and efficient use of those dollars,” Haggard said.

A public library system has been part of Sacramento since 1857, and residents have come to rely on their neighborhood branches as resources for information, quiet places to study, and even as hubs for community activities and children’s programs, Haggard said.

“I was raised up with the Dewey Decimal System,” said Leonard Robinbson, a Sacramento resident.

“Unfortunately we are in tough economic times, and everyone is feeling it,” Robinson said. “The library system needs to look for other ways to generate revenue to keep afloat.”

Anthony Neves, a frequent library user from Sacramento, said the biggest priority for the libraries should be keeping computers and books updated.

“Give people a reason to keep going back to the library,” Neves said.

“We’ve made drastic cuts. Painful cuts,” Haggard said. “Branch staff has taken on a great deal more work – everyone is doing a LOT more with a LOT less,” Haggard said.

The system is governed by an elected 14-member Library Authority, which operates 28 libraries in the system including a Central Library in downtown Sacramento.

Library staff will take all of the information they gather at the forums and present recommendations to the Library Authority In September.

Any changes resulting from public input and from staff recommendations will take effect in late September or early October.

For more information about the forums, email Director@saclibrary.org

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