Mayor’s initiatives to improve San Diego libraries move forward
Continuing his commitment to creating more opportunities for residents in every neighborhood to succeed, the City’s Budget and Government Efficiency Committee this week moved forward two initiatives proposed by Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer to promote greater efficiency within the library system, encourage public access and provide more equitable distribution of resources to branch libraries across the city.
“This is all about making sure library doors are open to every San Diegan,” Mayor Faulconer said. “These new policies will eliminate a program that hadn’t proved to be effective and more evenly distribute resources to all branch libraries, particularly for those in historically underserved communities. The changes we are making are another big step in creating One San Diego.”
The committee approved a plan to reform the Library Donations Matching Fund to more evenly distribute resources among the City’s 36 branch libraries. This plan requires the City to match all donations by 100 percent, and distributed as follows:
• 50 percent of the match will be designated for the branch where the donation was directed
• 50 percent of the match will be placed into an account to be distributed across the branch system within the first quarter of the subsequent fiscal year
“This is an important step to increase access to library resources for all San Diegans,” said Councilmember Cate. “I will continue to work to provide creative options to better serve our residents and provide access for the 128,000 children and families unable to utilize our public library system.”
This new policy is intended to direct more resources to historically underserved communities or communities less likely to receive philanthropic donations. The change comes after mayoral staff agreed to a recommendation by the City Auditor and replaces an existing program where all matching funds were given to the branch that received the original donation.
Also this week the committee recommended to the City Council the elimination of late charges for overdue books and resources. This decision was part of an annual comprehensive user fee analysis considered by the committee.
Eliminating fines is intended to restore access to library resources in low-income communities where up to 40 percent of cardholders are prohibited from checking out books because of outstanding bills. Studies show fines or late penalties are not the most effective way to motivate individuals to return borrowed items and that by eliminating fees, books are returned an average of eight days earlier.