Campaign builds steam for Sonoma County library branch in Roseland

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Momentum is building for opening a temporary library branch in Roseland, part of a long-standing effort to bring books, educational programs and other services to the community southwest of Santa Rosa.

The library would take up space in the old Furniture 2000 store on the site of the former Roseland Village Shopping Center, which is under redevelopment. About 60 percent of the books would be in Spanish, according to Brett Lear, director of the Sonoma County Library.

He and other officials said the library would fulfill the community’s long-standing desire to have a library branch in the neighborhood.

“This is the beginning to having a permanent home for literacy in Roseland,” said Supervisor Efren Carrillo, whose district includes Roseland. “That’s such a big deal.”

Efforts to open a library branch in Roseland have stalled over the years, including a 2008 attempt by Santa Rosa Junior College to establish a satellite campus and library in the area that never got off the ground due to the recession.

Now, the Sonoma County Library, in partnership with the Library Foundation, the county’s Community Development Commission and other groups, is well on its way to opening a branch by the target date of Nov. 1.

The coalition so far has raised $140,000 toward the goal of $190,000.

The group is hoping to raise an additional $10,000 through an online crowdfunding campaign that is scheduled to go live Sunday. With matching donations, organizers hope the campaign will net $30,000.

Jack Tibbetts, a member of the Library Foundation’s board, said the online campaign will appeal to a younger demographic the library hopes to connect with.

He said the hope is that the Roseland branch, once it opens, will do the same.

“Roseland is fast becoming one of the youngest neighborhoods in Sonoma County, and it is also one of the most diverse,” Tibbetts said. “In that vein, it’s important that children have easy access to library enrichment opportunities and all of the resources a library provides.”

Lear outlined some of the programs he said he hopes will be offered at the Roseland branch, including art programs for kids, workforce training programs and English-as-a-second-language classes.

He said the goal is to have the branch open during the week around the time kids get out of school and into the evening hours after people are off work, as well as one day on the weekend.

Organizers said Roseland residents who participated in forums organized by the Community Development Commission cited bringing a library to the area as one of their top priorities.

Lear said the branch initially would be approved to operate from November to June next year, when the fiscal year ends. He said whether the library remains open after that amounts to a budget decision.

The county library approved a general fund budget for this fiscal year of $17.9 million.

That includes a balanced operating budget of approximately $17 million and a transfer from the fund balance of approximately $900,000 for one-time expenses, which include $90,000 for the Roseland branch.

Current projections are that the library system could begin operating a deficit in the next four or five years.

“Were looking it as a one-year temporary commitment,” Lear said. “We want to see how it goes.”

Carrillo, however, said he views the project as the first-phase of a longer-term commitment to establishing a library branch in Roseland.

“I will say I don’t see this as just being temporary or intermittent,” the supervisor said. “I see this being the first step toward being a permanent branch.”

For information about the campaign, visit:

You can reach Staff Writer Derek Moore at 521-5336 or derek. On Twitter @deadlinederek.

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