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GUEST OPINION: Locals deserve better from county library system

  • 1/28/2012: B3:

    PC: Terry Ronine of Sebastopol finds a book on giraffes for his daughter Isabella, 18 months. The library is closing for renovations including new shelves with seismic bracing.

Closing the library would mean hardship for our local seniors and students, and community members were outraged. More disturbing was the fact that neither members of the Sebastopol Library Advisory Board nor the 5th District library commissioner, who sits on the governing board, had been consulted or notified when this decision was made. They found out with the rest of the public.

This reflects a serious disconnect between library management and the public which funds the operation of the library.

Due to the outcry from Sebastopol citizens, the library director, Sandra Cooper, asked the unpaid 5th District commissioner to scout out locations for a possible temporary site — on the weekend.

Through the efforts of SOCOSOL, the Sebastopol Library Advisory Board, Commissioner Helena Whistler, Sebastopol Mayor Guy Wilson, council members Sarah Gurney and Kathleen Shaffer, Steve Fiano of the Sonoma County architect's office and the many people affected by this decision, a sensible solution was found. The express stop will be relocated to an available room at the Sebastopol library.

While it is gratifying that a solution was found for Sebastopol, questions remain as to the priorities and commitment to public service on the part of the library director — and the oversight of her performance by the Library Commission. We hope that this unfortunate incident serves to spur improved oversight by the commission and a commitment by library management to better engagement with the community.

Dena Bliss and Virginia Harris are members of the Sonoma County Save our Libraries steering committee. Other members and authors of this piece are Petra Boardman, Karen Guma and Dale Miller.


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