June 2020 Update on the Status of the Library: 

City of Larkspur Operating Budget

 On Monday, June 8 the City Council approved the new 2020-2021 operating budget that decreases the Library budget by $284,768 to $634,095.  This action was taken to help address the $2.7M budget revenue shortfall the city faced, and recognizes that due to Covid-19 the library must operate under restricted rules for public safety.

City of Larkspur Decommits from the new Library Building Funding

The City Council also approved the new Capital Improvement Plan, which effectively formalized that they do not intend to invest funds in building a new library at this time. This decision was announced by Mayor Way at an earlier budget meeting.

New Digital Library Strategy

The Commons Foundation was formed to fund, build and sustain a new library community center for Larkspur, Greenbrae and Kentfield because the current library is unsafe, too small, and has inadequate access and parking.

In the Covid-19 reality of shelter in place, social distancing, and significant budget cuts, we need to rethink what the first phase of the new library can and should be.

We believe that we should drive to making the first phase of the new library a new Digital Library that is safe, improves access, and expands programs to as much of our community as possible. In the May Library Board of Trustees meeting, we recommended focusing on a new Digital Library strategy to respond to service cuts due to Covid-19 safety measures and the budget cuts.

Since then, we have been working with Franklin Escobedo, our Library Director, and Jonathan Shambroom, a member of the Library Board of Trustees, to think through what the new Digital Library can be. We will be presenting our initial thoughts on Tuesday June 9 at the Library Board of Trustees meeting and we expect to meet with other stakeholders and the City Council in the coming weeks.

What is a Digital Library?

The Digital Library is where we provide essential library services online, including:

·       Streaming Media
·       eBooks, eMagazines
·       Online public programs
·       Online services
·       Zoom Meetings
·      Circulation Desk, Help Desk, Chat, Email

The new Digital Library will require a new website to serve as the hub, social media for service delivery and communications, an online community, and marketing resources to make people aware of new content and how to access and enjoy it.

Digital Services are a National Library Trend

Libraries all across the US are shifting to digital services for content delivery, programs and community services. This just makes sense in a world of Covid-19 precautions and increasing demand for programs.

Recent articles include:

New York Times: Libraries Must Change

To stay true to their mission during the coronavirus pandemic, libraries should offer more digital services.

By Anthony W. Marx (President of the New York Public Library)
May 28, 2020, 5:00 a.m. ET

American Libraries: Coping in the Time of COVID-19

Librarians and health professionals discuss experiences and best practices

June 1, 2020

Why now and why us?

The demand for library and community gathering space services has increased due to the dislocations caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic recession. More parents are home schooling their children. Nearly all summer programs have been canceled for all age groups in our Parks and Recreation and library departments. Seniors are more isolated than ever because of their heightened health risk.

In addition, the Larkspur City Hall building is not safe and we do not at this time have a safe alternative physical place.

The Commons Foundation is stepping up with the new Digital Library strategy because we recognize it is the new phase one of funding, building and sustaining a new library. We think we can significantly improve the Larkspur Library now, and any funds raised and invested in the new Digital Library can be leveraged when we build the new building in the future. We expect to work with our existing partners in the community and form new ones to make this first phase work.

We are responding to the times with Robert Kennedy’s words in mind: “If not us who, and if not now, when?”

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