Hiring qualified staff harder than anticipated

Ballot Measure Y passed with 72 percent of the vote on Nov. 8, creating a one-eighth a cent sales tax income for local libraries that library leaders anticipated would bring in between $10 and $12 million annually. The plan was to start opening the branches on Mondays, rolling back a cutback from the days of the financial crisis.

The original plan had been to restore Monday hours around the county starting April 3, but Library Commissioner Randall Neff recently announced in a Windsor Town Council meeting that that date will have to be pushed back.

To be open, the branches need more librarians, with between 30 and 35 full- and part-time positions currently being recruited. Neff said on Feb. 1 that they had seen more than 500 applications for those positions, but unfortunately the strict requirements of some of the positions have left them unfilled.

“Hiring qualified people is harder than anticipated,” Neff said. “The Joint Powers Agreement that created the Sonoma County Library requires that all branches are open the same number of hours, except Central which is open on Sundays. The current plan is to open all the branches on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and an extra hour Wednesday evening 8 to 9 p.m. This would increase the libraries’ open hours from the current 40 hours to 52 hours, and will require hiring about 33 new employees, some full time, some part time and some will be substitutes. Some of the jobs are ‘librarian’ — the people at the reference desk — they require a Master of Library Science degree.”

According to Neff, there will be a community outreach meeting on Wednesday, May 3, at the Windsor Library from 6 to 7 p.m. to ask the community what they would like from their library. There will be similar meetings at the other branches.

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