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    Most LB Branch Libraries Won't See Restored Hours Till Feb. Or April 07, City Mgmt. Tells Council, Citing Need To Hire New Librarians

    (Dec. 21, 2006) -- City management has informed the Mayor and City Council (and taxpayers) that despite a September 2006 Council vote adding $1.3 million to city management's library budget, it will be February 3, 2007 (if then) when LB's Alamitos, Brewittt, Burnett, Dana and Bret Harte branch libraries resume five day a week schedules, and LB's North branch library resumes six day a week operation.

    And it will be April 2007 (if then) when LB's Bach, Bayshore, Los Altos and Twain branch libraries resume five day operation with El Dorado (now four days a week) going to six days a week. (Six day operation at Twain's new facilities is tentatively set for June). And Main will open on two evenings a week (currently only evening is Tuesday).

    And management's current plan is subject to a caveat: the ability to fill vacant Librarian positions (detailed below).

    The news came in response to an item agendized for the December 19 City Council meeting by 5th district Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske....who indicated that a number of residents had asked why LB's neighborhood branch libraries remain closed three days a week (Main reopened Sundays at an October media event but North branch is currently still closed two days).

    On August 14, Mayor Bob Foster (in office less than a month but required to forward a management-proposed budget to Councilmembers with his recommendations, if any) included the following budget recommendation:

    To immediately restore library hours at all branches and at Main, in addition to after-school homework assistance programs, I recommend the City Council allocate $1.3 million of the projected structural surplus...[emphasis supplied]

    Source: Mayor Bob Foster's Budget Recommendations, Aug, 14, 2006, p. 5.

    To underscore the importance of restoring library hours, Mayor Foster released his FY 07 budget recommendations alongside City Manager Jerry Miller (right) at a mid-August media event at LB's North Branch library.

    In September, the City Council voted to add the $1.3 million recommended by the Mayor to management's proposed library budget..

    In response to Councilwoman Schipske's agenda item, City Manager Jerry Miller said management could provide a written report at an upcoming Council meeting...or Deputy City Manager Suzanne Mason could present a summary report on the spot...which the Council invited and she provided. posts below a transcript of salient parts of management's Dec. 19 update below:

    Deputy City Manager Suzanne Mason: ...One of the great challenges in reopening our libraries really has to do with staffing, and as soon as the Council adopted the budget in September, library staff and civil service staff started working together aggressively to begin recruiting and bringing on new General Librarians and Department Librarians to reopen our libraries. Until that point, we had really been in a holding pattern and so working together, they are finally getting eligibility lists out and interviewing and bringing people on.

    The tentative schedule, unless we can find more available librarians for recruitment at a much quicker pace, I will share with you.

    As you're aware...on October 8, the Main library opened again on Sundays, and that was the first change. That was done using overtime so that we were able to do right away.

    Currently, the library staff is interviewing, they got eligibility lists in the last two weeks.

    On February 3, five additional neighborhood libraries will reopen to five days a week, and those are currently planned to include Alamitos, Brewittt, Burnett, Dana and Bret Harte.

    And then also on February 3, North branch will open to six days a week.

    The remaining five libraries will open as follows, and again this is all predicated on being able to find the available staff. For April...the remaining four libraries will open to five days a week with El Dorado opening to six days a week, and Bret Harte will also expand to six days a week on that date.

    And the Main library will become open on Mondays and two evenings a week.

    So that's the tentative plan, and of course, Mark Twain at MacArthur Park [newly expand facilities] as that opens will then again open to six days a week, tentatively planned for June.

    So there's a definite plan in place; it all has to do with staffing...

    No Councilmembers responded publicly to management's report. The Mayor thanked management for its report, which the Council received and filed (no action taken).

    As of December 21, 2006 the LB Public Library website indicates, "We are now hiring librarians due to the restoration of library hours at all neighborhood libraries and the Main Library,"

    For General Librarian (current closing date Jan. 19, 2007), it indicates "11 current full-time vacancies...due to an increase in budget funding and additional service hours." The full time permanent General Librarian positions carry a salary of $1,668.16 - $2,268.00 biweekly, in addition to which city taxpayers contribute 6% directly to the employee’s retirement account with PERS amounting to a retirement compensation value of $3,819.00 - $5,195.00 per month, Effective January 1, 2007, there's a 2% salary increase and, effective July 7, 2007 there'll be a 3% salary increase.

    For Department Librarian, the Library website lists 4 positions ($1,800.00 - $2,638.48 biweekly), no closing date deadline specified.

    The website indicates both job categories require "graduation from an American Library Association accredited college with a Master's degree in Library Science (MLS)."

    These job categories are among those subject to the 2002 "pension spike" recommended by now-former city management, scheduled under now-former Mayor Beverly O'Neill (following her reelection) for the last day of an outgoing Council and the first day of an incoming Council in mid-2002. Councilmembers recently voted to grant non-public safety employees an additional raise.]

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