Sebastopol’s beloved library, and the entire Sonoma County Library system, are now six years into their worst funding crisis in history.
Due to an unprecedented 25% cutback in hours, libraries have been closed on Mondays and evenings for the fist time in a century, locking out thousands of children, teens, and seniors from this vital public service. Sonoma County now spends just one third per capita what Marin and San Francisco spend on their libraries.
Mondays had been “library day” for my young sons, and for thousands of other families. Unwilling to accept a “new normal” of a drastically curtailed service for our community, in April of 2011 I persuaded Sebastopol’s City Council to pass a unanimous resolution asking the County Library Director to allow our City to raise funds to stop the libraries from closing. She refused, and Sebastopol’s hugely popular library joined ten others in the county to close down Mondays and reduce overall hours form 52 to 40 each week (during the 1970’s, they were open 75 hours!).
When it became apparent that the County had not plan increase funding to restore hours, I created the Restore Library Hours Campaign. This yearlong effort generated thousands of names on petitions and hundreds of calls and emails to Sonoma County’s Supervisors. In 2014, the Board of Supervisors voted 5 to 0 to put Measure M, a 1/8 of 1% sales tax on the ballot. I was an active member of the 12-member Committee to support Measure M, which narrowly failed, although more than 63% of voters voted for it.
Learn more and donate to this important campaign here.
Jonathan’s has been advocating for restoring closed libraries for five years. His Bohemian cover story about the government failure that brought about the largest cutback in library hours in history won the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club First-Place Award for Analysis. His public speeches at Supervisors meetings and commentaries in the Press Democrat (column 1 and column 2), raised public awareness and applied reassure on County officials to act, as did two major petitions he created and marketed, through his volunteer Restore Library Hours website.
Jonathan addressing the Board of Supervisors about the human consequences caused by the worst library funding crisis in Sonoma County history.