Call for Help: Urge City Council on 6/15

El Cerrito Library Supporters,

Once again we are asking library supporters to stand up for El Cerrito’s most vulnerable and underserved persons. Library hours are a huge equity issue.

Our City Council needs to consider our City’s values when looking at what to cut and what to keep in next year’s budget. One of our City’s core values is equity. From an equity standpoint we believe there is nothing else in the budget that provides more equity than library hours. This is true both because of access to materials, to Internet services, and to valuable programs for lower income families.

Unfortunately, at their June 1 meeting, the Council decided to not support increased library hours with City funding. In the interest of equity, this decision should be reversed. Nobody in the library community or general public had any idea that a proposal to reduce library hours was to be made at the June 1 meeting.

We urge all El Cerrito Library supporters and all who support equity in library access to contact City Council members before their June 15 meeting to urge the Council to restore library hours to 46 hours per week as they finalize their budget for the year starting July 1!

The Council needs to consider our City’s values when looking at what to cut and what to keep in next year’s budget. One of our City’s core values is equity. From an equity standpoint we believe there is nothing else in the budget totaling $58,000 that is more impactful on equity than library hours.

If you agree with this, send an email to the El Cerrito City Clerk at cityclerk@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us. Make the subject line of your email “Public Comments – Proposed 2021-2022 Budget.” Simply say: “Fund library hours at 46 hours per week for 2021-2022.” Anything else you want to add is good. The number of comments is more effective than the wording. Comments are due by noon on June 15.

Alternatively, IF AT ALL POSSIBLE, show up (virtually via Zoom) at the Council meeting on June 15 at 7 pm. The budget is likely to be the only substantive item on the agenda so most likely the wait won’t be too long. You normally have three minutes to speak. If there are a lot of people who want to speak you may be limited to either two minutes or one minute. Simply say, “I’m (your name), I live in El Cerrito and I support funding of 46 library hours per week.” Again it’s the number of people who expend the energy to appear and speak that matters much more than the words spoken.

How to access the virtual meeting:
1) On June 15 at 7 pm, use the Zoom link that the City will provide for the meeting.
2) When the statement is made to indicate if you want to speak on the budget item, either click on
the “Raise Hand” icon in your Zoom app or press *9 (that’s the * key and the number 9 key) if using a phone.
3) You will be called on by the city clerk when it’s your turn to speak.
4) When it’s your turn click on the “Unmute” button if using a computer (it will appear after the
clerk calls on you) or press *6 (that’s the * key and the number 6 key) if using a phone. Then, make your statement along the lines below.

“We urge you to restore funding to keep our library open for 46 hours per week. The cost of this item is very small and what it represents in value to all of us, and especially to our most vulnerable and underserved, is huge.”

Thank you for speaking out for our library.

ECLF Board Members

We need your help – Again!

The last time funding additional library hours was before the El Cerrito City Council the El Cerrito Library community rallied in support of access to our library in a huge way submitting over 70 public comments of support.

Now it is time for a repeat performance because library hours are in danger again.

Background:

At the March 16th El Cerrito City Council meeting, the City manager responded to City Council direction to show the possible impacts of either a 1 million or a 2 million dollar reduction in the upcoming 2021-22 City General Fund budget.

The following Expense Reduction Options were presented:

  • Outsourcing certain services
  • Reducing City support for expanded Library hours
  • Reduce/eliminate support for Recreation programs
  • Decrease Fire Department response/services
  • Decrease Police Department response/services
  • Decrease maintenance Citywide

In the weeks between now and June 30, the City will continue to discuss the City’s financial plans in many settings:

1) A Concurrent Budget Townhall and Special City Council Meeting at 10:00 am on Saturday April 10

2) Regular Financial Advisory Board meetings (7:00 p.m., 2nd Tuesday of each month)

3) A Budget Study Session (Date [probably in May] TBD)

4) A Fiscal Recovery Plan discussion (Date TBD)

5) Regular City Council Meeting Budget Hearings typically held in late May and early June each year

How these meetings will be held in light of the Covid situation is an open question. It is most likely they will be virtual meetings accessible through a computer connection via the Internet.

The Foundation will inform you when specific dates for these meetings are scheduled, but please don’t wait until then to prepare your comments: 1) On how any reduction in our Library hours would affect you, your family, or vital community access, and 2) to request continuation of City funding of at least six additional hours per week to maintain the current library hours.

This year, when the City receives over 4 million dollars in new Federal assistance from the recently passed Covid Relief bill and when the Contra Costa County Supervisors have decided to increase County support for library hours to 40 hours per week because of their belief that such services are vital, it is not a time El Cerrito should again be considering reducing library hours.

That’s why “We need your help – Again!” to keep the current library services available for all, especially those who most need them in our community.

Please send your comments to the City Council and the Financial Advisory Board for each of their meetings asking them to continue funding at least six additional hours of library services to maintain the current library schedule. Please note that the request for six extra hours involves approximately $50,000 less City money than for the past several years because the County is increasing its support for libraries county-wide.

Details on how to submit your public comments, either live at a virtual meeting, or written in advance of a meeting, can be found here. (This link will download a PDF file of instructions.) For more information on public comments, please contact the El Cerrito City Clerk at cityclerk@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us or 510-215-4305.

El Cerrito Library Reopens on April 26!

In case you haven’t heard, beginning Monday, April 26, Contra Costa County Library will reopen most community libraries to the public for Grab & Go service. El Cerrito Library will be open with limited occupancy and offer select services. Patrons will be asked to limit their time in the library to no more than one hour and to abide by all safety protocols including social distancing and mask requirements.

Available services will include:

  • Computer use for no more than one hour
  • Reference and account help
  • Holds pick up
  • Check out and returns
  • Browsing
  • Copies and printing

For the safety of the public and library staff the following will not be available to patrons inside the libraries:

  • Chairs and tables for reading and studying
  • Study rooms 
  • Meeting rooms 
  • In-person events

Library staff are working closely with County Risk Management, Public Works and the 18 cities and towns that partner with the Library to prepare the facilities for reopening.

The following safety protocols will be in place:

  • Customers over the age of two are required to wear a mask or face covering
  • Social distancing reminders will be placed throughout the library
  • Building capacity will be limited
  • Hand sanitizer will be available at entrances
  • Sanitizing wipes available for customers to sanitize shared surfaces
  • Seating only available at selected public computers to encourage social distancing
  • Toys and high touch play items are removed
  • Library staff eligible for vaccinations as of Friday, March 12

Safety enhancements include:

  • Plexiglass installation at service desks
  • Enhanced cleaning of “high-touch” surfaces such as doorknobs, door push bars, elevator buttons
  • Increases to air intake with HVAC systems

Please visit ccclib.org/libraries-reopen for complete details about available services, locations and safety protocols.

Source: https://ccclib.org/libraries-reopen/