Mendo Island Action Center: Vote Yes on Libraries — Measure A


The countywide “Vote Yes on Libraries” campaign committee announced the start of its active organizing to make sure our county libraries have proper funding. It requires a two-thirds majority vote to pass the initiative, called “Measure A” on the fall ballot, so “Vote Yes on Libraries” groups are forming in every community within the county.

The money raised by the initiative cannot be used for any other purpose because state law, and the ordinance itself, says the monies raised “shall be used exclusively for preserving existing libraries, reversing the deterioration in services…upgrading facilities, services and collections…”  When approved, Measure A will keep all branches open five days per week and restore and expand the children’s reading programs.

“Libraries contribute to the health and vitality of our community. This is an investment in the future. The one-eighth cent increase in the sales tax will be 13 cents for every hundred dollars spent on taxable items which will cost the average household less than $2 per month,” said Valerie Frey of Fort Bragg, the president of the Yes on Libraries Steering Committee.

The library system is in jeopardy. Measure A will provide the money ($1.3 million annually) to solve its problems. Soon whole branches may have to be closed. Already library hours have been severely cut and services restricted. This Measure will keep library branches staffed 5 days a week, restore children’s librarians’ positions on the coast and inland, and add hundreds of new books, DVDs, eBooks and music.

The Yes on Libraries Committee Steering Committee will oversee the county-wide campaign. Its members are: Valerie Frey, Fort Bragg, president; Michael Schaeffer, Comptche, treasurer; Marc Komer, Willits, Secretary; Pearl Watts, Gualala; Benj Thomas, Ukiah; and Steve Antler, Mendocino, coordinator. Members of the committee, who serve on the Library Advisory Board, were instrumental in getting the Board of Supervisors to unanimously place the issue before the voters, based on a California law applying to libraries.

Anyone interested in joining “Vote Yes on Libraries” may contact the organization by calling or emailing Steve Antler at 707-937-5925, or “We hope this will be an effort by our whole community and everyone is welcome to participate in groups formed and forming near where they live”, Antler said.

The League of Women Voters, the City Councils of Ukiah, Willits, and Point Arena, the Willits and Mendocino Unified School District Boards as well as many community leaders have already endorsed the Measure, and are committed to work for its passage.

Facts, Figures & Funding

The Libraries Today

  • Book circulation has risen 13.6% in the past year, and library cards are held by 54% of Mendocino County residents, approximately 48,000 cardholders.
  • The libraries have an average of 18 volunteers for every one staff member and could not operate without every one.
  • State funding for Mendocino County libraries has dropped over 80% and may be completely eliminated in January 1, 2012.
  • The Library District now receives no money from the County’s general fund.
  • In the past three years there has been a 25% decrease in overall funding and a 30% reduction in staff.
  • Libraries open 40 hours per week three years ago are now open 21 hours, nearly a 50% cut.
  • The district will use all of its remaining reserve funds before June 30th, 2011.
  • Fort Bragg, Ukiah and Willits have no children’s services and the inter-library loan program has been discontinued.
  • Almost all books, DVDs and other items come from donations and the support of Friends of Libraries. There are long waits for many popular materials.

The Libraries Tomorrow Without Funding

  • There will be no Library District reserve monies.  The library will need an additional $300K in revenues for 12-13 to continue on the reduced schedule of 2011-2012.  To return to 5 days per week will need an additional $500-$600 thousand dollars.
  • It may be necessary to completely close the Willits branch, and disperse its collection. It will not be reopened if that happens.  Alternatively, it is possible that Fort Bragg, Ukiah and Willits, the busiest branches will be reduced to two days per week, and other libraries’ hours will be further reduced.
  • There will be no children’s staff or children’s programming during the school year or the summer except as provided by volunteers.
  • Friends of the Library organizations will not be able to provide nearly as much support for books and materials so there will be even fewer new children and adult books and materials.

What the Libraries would do with More Money

  • Restore hours at existing branches through the county so they will be open at least five days per week with convenient hours and may eventually expand to six days per week.
  • Bring back library programs for children and young adults, including full summer reading clubs.
  • Buy many new books, ebooks, children’s books, DVDs, music, self-learning materials for all County residents
  • Restore Inter-Library Loans service.
  • Expand outreach programs for individuals who cannot easily come to a library through bookmobile services.
  • Provide a self-service check out option at each of their branches within the next three years.

If you need More Information or want to Help or Donate, please ask at the desk for the Friends of the Library information or email

One Comment

This is a great article. If you care for more information, or you know anyone who wants to assist the campaign, please have them contact me: Steven Antler 937-5925
The Vote Yes on Libraries campaign now has a Ukiah Valley Coordinator: Sheilah Rogers, 485-5825
We are forming Local Campaign Committees in every part of the county. Our community can effect the future for our children as well as preserving a vital American institution by overwhelming voting Yes.