Tell me about yourself Lisa. How did you end up here in Sonoma?
I relocated here in 2012 after many years in Mt. Shasta, in Siskiyou County up north, where I was the Director of Library services for the county. I live in Boyes and bike to work; it’s wonderful.
Sounds like you’re a life-long librarian.
I began working at a local library at sixteen and loved it. I then went on to get a Master’s in Library and Information Studies at the University of Arizona. To be a professional, a “Librarian,” requires a Master’s Degree.
You’ve witnessed many changes. Miss the file cards?
Not really. Using the card file system was awkward and time-consuming when looking for a book. Entire rooms at universities were dedicated to card-file cabinets. Now computer terminals allow searching among millions of titles.
Electronics has changed everything. Is a book on a computer still a book?
Yes! Now there’s e-books, audio-books, and reading pixels on a screen. It’s interesting, though; studies are showing that it’s harder to retain information from pixelated images on a screen than words printed on paper. On the other hand, our electronic age has made it easier to integrate reading into life’s ordinary activities.
Is the library getting used?
Yes, steady use, a lot of use. This community has a large percentage of library card holders and awareness of the library is high. Ours is a high-caliber population that appreciates what we offer. It’s a quiet, well-lit place – a non-commercial space not selling anything. And it’s a public place that supports artists and writers by giving them a spot to interact with the public in programs. Our most popular public program is ethnic music. Our programs are free-of-charge.
How can you afford that?
Performers are paid by our support organization, Friends of the Library. It’s a group of intelligent, dedicated, insightful people, and they raise a lot of money for us. 96% of our budget is guaranteed as a portion of County of Sonoma Property Tax collections. It cannot be cut and that funding has no sunset provision.
So you obviously see the Library as more than just a place to check out books.
Libraries play a psychological and emotional role in a community. When a library is forced to close it hurts community spirit, the spirit of the commons. Libraries are symbolic of freedom and privacy; state law prohibits us from disclosing the book-lending history of any patron. In this way, libraries are actually instigators of freedom of thought and information. And socially, the library’s role is also to teach patience, politeness and civility.
Do you use volunteers?
We have a long-standing corps of volunteers – dedicated and reliable. Currently opportunities are limited; sorting donated books and participating in our after school, Tuesday “homework help” program for students. Those interested should contact Dave Dobbins at 707-996-3072.
When is the Library open?
Tuesday and Thursday 10-6; Wednesday 10-8; and Saturday 10-4. Of course to check out books you have to have a library card. All it takes is presenting identification, like a driver’s license. It costs nothing to get a library card; it’s state law, kind of a “civil right.” And by the way, Larry, do you have a library card?
Interview by Larry Barnett