A Year After Their Win – Nevada County Libraries
We checked in with Laura Pappani, director of the Nevada County Community Library, around the 1-year anniversary of passing Measure A - a new sales tax that doubled the library funding from 1/8th cent to 1/4 cent in November 2016 - to learn about how the library has put this new funding to work in their communities.
It's an impressive list, including expanding the hours that people can access the educational, jobs and employment, and community building resources from the library; adding smart, capable, and engaged librarians and staff who work one-on-one with folks of all ages and abilities; and updating the technology backbone and buildings for the 21st century. It's a big investment by the people of Nevada County, and it's paying off. Laura shared her Measure A 'to-do and to-done' list:
- Better hours – At the beginning of November, we will increased hours at our three large branches and one of our small stations. In January, we will be opening one of our busiest branches on Mondays – a day we had to drop during the economic downturn because we didn’t have the staff to operate the branch across a six day schedule.
- Increase services for young people – Prior to the passage of Measure A, we had coverage by a Youth Services Librarian for 20 hours a week at each of our three main branches. We have been able to hire 1.5 FTE so we now have 40 hours a week of coverage by a Librarian in our children’s and teen’s areas in each large library. This is essential for driving programs, services, and outreach to the community.
- Improved technology/access to technology: We can now adequately staff our grant-funded Mobile Technology Van, which enables us to take it out into the community for regular stops in underserved areas and visits to schools and classrooms. We are updating our public and staff computers; previously, we could only afford to replace something when it was showing the Blue Screen of Death. Improved staffing overall enables us to better assist the public when they are having trouble with a public computer or need assistance with their personal device.
- Extension of services to underserved areas – We just established an Agreement with a grassroots volunteer-run library in North San Juan, an area we’ve wanted to serve better for at least 15 years, but could never afford to. We are supporting their basic operations (utilities, etc.) so they can focus on running the library, not fundraising in order to keep the doors open. We also plan to collaborate with them to put on programs. The Mobile Technology Van is also a way to reach underserved areas.
- More programs for families and people of all ages – More programs for adults, not just kids, and at all branches, not just the main library.
- Update and improve facilities – While we still don’t have enough funding for major capital projects, we now have funding to replace furniture and to add furniture that better serves the public’s needs (think comfy chairs for reading the paper, tables for laptop use, etc.). We are going to come up with a better solution for our antiquated and non-accessible book drop at the Grass Valley Library, as well as other projects.
She goes on to say that "There are many other smaller things that we can now fund (like training for staff, a budget for children’s performers, etc.) but those above are the big things...."
EveryLibrary was proud to work with Laura and her team over the 2 years leading up to Measure A's Election Day. We started our pro-bono involvement there in September 2014 through initial assessment and planning meetings with Nevada County officials. This early work was focused on creating a plan for the library that included not only Plan A - what happens if it passes - but also Plan B - what happens if it does not. EveryLibrary was able to help them gauge the feelings and attitudes of the community about a possible Measure, and to align early coalition building activities across the county for future success. We returned to the county in person twice, including trainings for all library staff, and spent a lot of time by phone with the team.
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Laura sent us these final thoughts about working with EveryLibrary. We're proud to share them:
I am so grateful for the help and support my library system received from EveryLibrary. You helped us to keep on track with what to focus on at various times leading up to the election, plus gave us excellent advice at various junctures based on your broad experience with, and understanding of, library ballot initiatives. Surely there are some library directors who really thrive on politics and campaigning, but I’m willing to venture that many more are like me: I’m a librarian because I love libraries, I’m a director because I can manage a department and can passionately advocate for libraries, but I’m not a politician. I feel out of my element when it comes to larger political initiatives with so much at stake. EveryLibrary helped me to bridge that gap and feel more confident in the decisions I was making. Thank you so very much.
Our involvement in Nevada County went beyond the Information Communication Campaign to also help encourage and shape the "Yes for Nevada County Libraries: Yes on Measure A" committee. Because we are a political action committee and not an association or other non-profit, we are able to work on the Vote Yes campaign as well as the library's information-only outreach. We truly enjoyed the chance to support the very capable and experienced group of citizens from around the County to help set them on a path to a 70% to 30% vote on Election Day. All of our activities with the Vote Yes committee were pro-bono and focused on what works best in places as different as Grass Valley, Nevada City, and Truckee. And while the Yes folks there knew a lot about how to do Get Out the Vote right, having us as external advisers and library-campaign experts made them more effective.
As we mentioned before, all our work as advisers and consultants is pro-bono for both the library team and the Vote Yes committee. We are 100% donor supported to do this work and to create these impacts. Since we started as the first national political committee for libraries, EveryLibrary has helped bring 72 libraries to the ballot and helped secure over $255 million in stable tax funding for these libraries.
EveryLibrary is singularly focused on ensuring libraries have the funding they need to serve.
If you believe that “any library ballot measure anywhere should matter to every library everywhere,” please take the next step and set up a monthly donation today. We expect to work with 20+ libraries in 2018. Your $10-25 monthly contribution will let us get to work with our 2018 libraries tomorrow. As the only national organization dedicated to building voter support for libraries, we need your help for the next library community like Nevada County.