The Sonoma County Gazette: Community News Magazine
Sonoma County Gazette
| more

Photo Gallery

Sonoma County Residents Interested in Improving Library Services


Sonoma County Residents Interested in Improving Library Services

A recently commissioned independent survey of voters in Sonoma County shows residents overwhelmingly support their local libraries and view them as central to the community.

The survey, conducted in November 2016 by the highly respected opinion research firm of Godbe Research, provides insight into constituent opinions and priorities for local libraries, including evaluating interest in a potential local library funding measure.

Residents strongly value the expertise of their local librarians and 83% prioritize funding to keep qualified librarians. Maintaining and improving children’s collections and services was also of high importance to residents. Library services for children and youth that were top funding priorities for respondents include: 

• Maintaining children’s books and materials collections

• Maintaining children’s classes and services 

• Continuing reading clubs for children and teens

• Providing safe places for children after school

“Over 30,000 school and pre-school children use our libraries each year,” said Sonoma County Library Director Brett Lear. “With local school libraries closed or severely limited to only a few hours per week, the services and educational support we provide for children and youth are more critical than ever.”

Residents also recognize the library as a resource that provides books, computer and internet access, classes, and services for those that can’t afford to buy them. Specifically, expanding senior and disabled services is important to 76% of respondents and 75% prioritize restoring library hours, which have been cut by 25% since 2011 due to decreased revenues and the increasing costs of books and materials.

“Public libraries are one of the few places left in the community that benefit everyone, including children, families, employers, seniors, and the disabled,” added Lear. “It is heartening to see that residents value improving access to our resources.”

When asked about a potential funding measure, an overwhelming 77% of respondents are supportive of a local measure to maintain, restore and enhance library services. Any potential measure would require that funds be controlled locally to benefit local libraries. Sonoma County Library is completely separate from county and city government, is governed independently, and currently receives no revenue from the County Board of Supervisors.

“We are encouraged by the support we see in the community for continuing to improve and expand access to our libraries, and this feedback will help the Library Commission in evaluating how to address our service and funding needs,” said Commission Chair Tim May

Sonoma County Library has been systematically assessing library priorities and needs over the past year. The Library’s recently completed, community-driven Strategic Plan is available online at, and the library will continue to engage the community as it works to prioritize services in order to implement the plan. The library will also be initiating a facilities assessment process and will conduct additional community outreach regarding the needs for maintaining library facilities in the coming months.