Thursday, August 09, 2007

Solano Library System - These days, it handles 115,000 books, DVDs and other materials annually and its budget is $2.2 million a year.

Supes approve library money
By Danny Bernardini/Staff Writer
Article Launched:08/08/2007 06:26:46 AM PDT
Ten years ago, the Solano County Library system operated on a $430,000 budget and processed about 13,000 items a year.

These days, it handles 115,000 books, DVDs and other materials annually and its budget is $2.2 million a year.

The problem is that employees at the system's central processing center in Fairfield are working in the same cramped confines as they did 10 years ago, said Ann Cousineau, director of library services.

"We had several years in the '90s where we were in bad shape," Cousineau said. "We've steadily been increasing the budget, but not the space."

To help alleviate some of those space troubles, the Solano County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 Tuesday to spend $3.9 million to renovate two buildings in downtown Fairfield that will be used to order, process and deliver materials to the nine libraries in the Solano County system.

Cousineau talked with the supervisors about the lack of room at the current facilities.

"We have seriously outgrown our space," Cousineau said. "We are so cramped we can't get (books and materials) out expeditiously."

"We don't have work stations that allow or staff to do their jobs," she said.

Included in the renovation is the current library headquarters at 1150 Kentucky St., which will receive a $600,000 remodel of vacated space. This space includes 2,700 square feet once occupied by the Technical Services division and 1,000 square feet of adjacent space.

The larger chunk of money, $3.2 million, will be spent on revamping a vacant 9,000-square-foot building at 601 Kentucky St., which once housed a post office. At least $2.5 million will go toward fixing the roof and making the building compliant with standards for the disabled.

"The workflow is just totally congested," she said. "This gives them space to spread things out and move them through."

Also included in the plans is moving the Solano County Library Foundation from its current home on Webster Street to the vacant building at 601 Kentucky St.

Supervisor John Vasquez said he was impressed the county was spending money on libraries.

"In an era where (others) are building more prisons, we're building libraries," Vasquez said.

The board also voted 4-1 to hold off on including a public art allowance for the project. The $39,000 allowance will be put into a fund and be used for art at a library to be chosen at a later date.

Because of Solano County's Public Art Ordinance, any construction project of more than $100,000 on county property is required to spend 1.5 percent of final construction costs on public art. The board had the choice to waive the allowance or defer it to another project.

Supervisor Jim Spering brought up the idea of using the money for the new Suisun library that will be built summer of 2008.

"There are other opportunities throughout the county where art would be appropriate," Spering said.

Danny Bernardini can be reached at

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