Improved library services may not be in the books for Manteca.
Municipal staff was lukewarm, if that, about arguments during a budget workshop that the city’s residents view library services as important as other recreational needs based on mid-2017 surveys conducted by a consultant that cobbled together the city’s first Parks & Recreation Master Plan.
A brief discussion about city library services occurred Tuesday after a reference was made to four letters that urged the council to support funding for a poll of voters regarding library and recreation services to determine whether placing a tax measure on the 2020 ballot makes sense. City Council members did not make any comment about the need for additional library funding or facilities per se.
The letters were from Dr. Mas’ood Cajee — a Manteca dentist and a major player in the 2016 effort to secure a quarter cent tax in Stockton to support improved library and recreation services — as well as Manteca dentist and Islamic Center of Manteca Inman Mohammad ElFarra, Manteca resident and principal of Van Allen Elementary School in rural Escalon Julio Zambrano, and Manteca Unified elementary teacher Sasha Cope.
Swimming pool, library
more sports fields seen
as bigger city priorities
The gist of the budget workshop conversation centered on matching parks and recreation growth fees to build a laundry list of facilities that does not include a library with top priorities for a swimming pool/or aquatics center, gym/community center and additional sports fields.
While the discussion was brief and did not delve into what type of tax could be proposed or what it would encompass, it was clear there was no signal that new or improved library facilities or even funding for operations would be a priority.
The bulk of the budget to operate the Manteca branch of the Stockton-San Joaquin County Library System comes from Stockton and the county. Manteca pays for the expansion of some hours as well as contributes to the book budget periodically. Manteca provides the building and covers the furnishings, maintenance and upkeep as well as paying for electricity. Every other city in the county except for the City of Lodi that has its own independent library has a similar relationship with the library system.
Library advocates argue many people incorrectly believe libraries are obsolete in the age of the Internet.
“If you think for a moment that public libraries are dinosaurs, please think again,” Cajee wrote in his letter to the council. “I will take you on a personal tour of Silicon Valley’s public libraries on a Saturday morning. Bill Gates, the wealthiest American of our time, has contributed generously and heavily to the amazing public library in his hometown of Seattle. Today’s 21st Century Public libraries are engines of economic growth, incubators of the knowledge-based economy, and crucial after-school, weekend, and vacation sanctuaries for kids and families. Today’s 21st Century Public libraries are community hubs of lifelong-learning that keep kids on the right track, out of trouble, and on the path to success.”
Statistics compiled by the Strong Libraries Strong Communities citizens group instrumental getting the Stockton sales tax passed, show that Manteca now has one of the worst funded libraries on a per capita basis among all Northern California cities.
In 2016 using the latest statewide information available — the 2010-2011 fiscal year — the group documented the Stockton-San Joaquin County Library System had the fith worst staffing per capita among state’s 181 public library systems that included cities with one independent library. That ratio was one full time equivalent library staff member per 11,639 residents. The lowest was Carmel at 1 per 327 residents.
Libraries have significantly stronger support in vibrant Silicon Valley cities
In communities serving the Silicon Valley and up the high tech job centers up the Peninsula to San Francisco the ratios were 1 in 3,189 in San Jose, 1 in 2,774 in Sunnyvale home of Yahoo, 1 to 2,542 in Livermore, 1 in 2,501 in Pleasanton, 1 in 2,487 in Oakland, 1 in 2,103 in Los Gatos, 1 in 2,056 in San Mateo, 1 in 1,728 in Mountain View home of Google, 1 in 1,708 in Redwood City home of Oracle, 1 in 1,606 in Menlo Park home of Facebook, and 1 in 1,317 in San Francisco home of Twitter and Uber,
Lodi was at 1 in 3,590. Stockton, since the passage of the quarter cent sales tax, now has a lower staffing ratio to population than Manteca.
“For over 130 years now, the best way for an American city to improve quality of life culturally, educationally, and socially has been to invest in the best public library it can afford,” Cajee said. “That is exactly what Mantecans did in the early 1960s when it built our current library.
Led by my predecessor Dr. Lloyd Henry, Manteca invested in a great 20th century library in the early 1960s when it was much, much smaller. Today, however, Mantecans do not have a great 21st century library that can help us with current challenges. Sadly, our library has not been expanded since the late 1970s when Manteca was about 4 times smaller than it is now and had one stoplight. . . . If we want to turn the tide on super-commutes, low-paying jobs, crime, and delinquency — we need to work on our quality of life — and that means taking a hard look at our public libraries as well as our community centers and recreation facilities.”
Manteca library designed
to serve 32,000 residents
The current Manteca Library on Center Street was dedicated in January 1962. It was expanded in 1977 to its current configuration with the prediction it would be adequate for the city through 1995 when population was projected to reach 32,000. Manteca’s actual population in 1995 was 45,060 residents. Manteca now has 78,000 residents.
Advocates such as Cajee note many believe in the Age of the Internet where you can Google seemingly anything that libraries are on their last legs. But they beg to differ with plenty of facts tempered with knowledge.
uNot everything is online. You can Google a lot of facts but the library is best to gain knowledge.
uGoogle is not free. Everything from business data bases to electronically borrowing books costs money on the Internet. That’s not the case for libraries.
As for libraries overall:
uSeattle — a city with the same population as San Joaquin County— is the second most literate city in America with a library for every 15,000 residents.
uSt. Paul, Minn., — a city with half the population of San Joaquin County — is the seventh most literate city in America and has a library for every 11,000 residents.
uSan Jose, a city not rated for literacy, has a library for every 42,000 residents.
uSan Joaquin County has a library for every 62,000 residents.
uManteca has a library for every 78,000 residents.
uSan Joaquin County has a 77.2 percent high school graduation rate compared to the nation’s 86 percent high school completion rate.
uSome 18.1 percent of San Joaquin County’s adult population has a college degree compared to 28.8 percent nationally.
San Joaquin County wasn’t always struggling to provide libraries.
In 1964, it was considered the ninth best library system out of 150 in California.
15 years ago Manteca pushed for a 2-story library then dropped plans
In 2003 the City of Manteca adopted tentative plans for a two-story, 52,000-square-foot library with a price tag of $21 million on the site of the existing library last expanded in 1977.
Manteca’s plan to finance the new library was simple. It was to take a shot at state library bond money to pick up the bulk of the cost. Manteca almost made the cut during two application rounds. It also included raising the government facilities fees on new growth that was the target of a developer lawsuit in 2009 in which the city ultimately prevailed. That growth fee can’t be jacked up under state law more than what can be justified as to what demand a single housing unit will place on government facilities. In other words, growth can’t legally pay for the portion of the building that would be used by those living in the existing housing stock.
Short of a benefactor like the one Ripon has in Tony Mistlin or securing a federal or state grant the only way to drum up the money realistically is through a parcel tax, sales tax, or a bond election.
There have been periodic pushes for new library facilities since 1992. The community efforts fizzled out after unsuccessful attempts. When Manteca didn’t get state library bond money the city simply dropped pursuing expansion of library services.
Four years ago then Councilman Vince Hernandez tried to push for a satellite library site to serve the growing population south of the 120 Bypass as well as pursue possible partnerships at new school sites with Manteca Unified has done with Stockton by locating a community library that is part of the New Vision High School complex in Weston Ranch.
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