Library board pushed to expand hours

Activists this week pressed the Sonoma County Library Commission to do more to restore hours that have left the system's 11 branches closed on Mondays and evenings for two years.

The public pressure came Wednesday night shortly after the commission announced the appointment of two managers to serve as interim co-directors after embattled director Sandy Cooper steps down Sept. 20.

Jaime Anderson, division manager, and David Dodd, collection manager, will lead the library system until a replacement for Cooper can be found. Both bring a "high level of expertise and dedication to the oversight of our library," said commission Chairman Tim May.

The announcement was largely overshadowed, however, by library critics who attended the meeting demanding the commission take steps to restore hours or resign.

"There is no priority more important to us than restoring these library hours as these critical facilities," Jonathan Greenberg, a sharp library critic, told the commission.

Since 2011, libraries in the county have been open 40 hours per week instead of 52, a 23 percent reduction.

Greenberg, a father of two from Sebastopol, delivered the commission a petition he said was signed by 1,825 people requesting sufficient funding be found to allow the hours to be restored. He made a similar case to the Sonoma County Supervisors in June, unsuccessfully.

He suggested that the commission hold a meeting to consider ways of increasing the hours, including by dipping into reserves, getting additional funding from the Board of Supervisors, or reallocating money from other parts of the library. If they would not, he said they should resign.

After Greenberg's remarks, May defended the commission and said he shared residents' concerns.

"We hear you. We have heard you. It would be impossible for us not to," May said. "But we also know that we are trying to limp through on a limited budget."

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