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Belle Haven RFP & Near-Term Ways to Improve the Branch

From: domainremoved <Lynne>
Date: Tue, 22 Aug 2017 17:38:07 -0700

Dear Council,

I'm writing about tonight's agenda item pertaining to the RFP for the
Belle Haven Neighborhood Needs Assessment. I spent hours developing input
into the RFP, but my suggestions did not receive a response, nor were they
incorporated into the RFP. (Members of the BH community also wrote with
suggestions that were not acted on.) However, I want you to see them. My
Background section gives a more comprehensive overview of the Belle Haven
Community. It also suggests a change to the current measurement system that
can create a bias against the Branch. I also reworded the statement
pertaining to wanting to know why Branch is underused by the community.
(They aren't using it much because of the limited hours, the limited
collection and so forth. We don't need an RFP to find out why people don't
go there much.) Instead, I put the responsibility on the Library staff for
finding out what the community needs and wants.

Related to the Branch, the existing one could be considerably improved and
I briefly discussed my ideas with the Belle Haven Elementary School
Librarian -- who was fully in support. She lives in Belle Haven and would
like the Branch to be more useful to the community. So, I wrote the
official Branch manager to request a meeting. That person referred me to
Susan Holmer who "makes all decisions regarding the Branch." I then met
with Susan and her Assistant Director regarding my ideas. My main
suggestions were to make the library more useful for teens and adults, by
adding books from the Friends (and other places) and displaying the books
in a more inviting way. Susan did not agree to have books come from the
Friends as she said suppying the books was a librarian's role. She
mentioned that the Library was purchasing $5K of books (each) for adults,
teens and in Spanish and planning to recarpet (and not just clean) the rug
along with getting some new furniture and improving some light fixtures.
However, books are what that library needs the most! While Susan did not
agree to many of my ideas, she agreed to some that I will work on. The
Branch has space for many more books. I would have come in on a Sunday to
do the work (along with a few volunteers). If anyone objected, I would have
put things back the following Sunday! The School Librarian also told me
that the Wi-Fi was unnecessarily turned off when the Branch was closed and
a Branch staffer confirmed this. However, Susan said the Wi-Fi was turned
on until 10 p.m. or the same hours as the Main Library. I haven't had the
time to go there myself (after hours) to see if it's on or not.

Library Management needs a plan to improve the Branch with milestones and
accountability as a bridge towards the goal of a modern, full-service
Branch Library that serves the entire Belle Haven Community. We also need a
specfic plan related to getting a new Branch Library. I also think we need
an official policy related to equity of Library resources (with some
"teeth" in it) such as the one that the City of San Diego decided its
Library system needed.

Meanwhile, the Library needs to be open to new ideas and to go beyond
"cosmetic" and sporadic efforts to improve the Branch. We also need to put
innovative and energetic staffers at the Branch and to give them some
freedom to try different programs. (There were two excellent staffers who
are no longer at the Branch. I would like to bring them back.) Loosen the
controls and experiment! We also need to put more of our "best"
family-oriented programming at the Branch to draw people to the Branch and
to help bridge the divide between the two parts of our town. People will
get to know each other better over interesting programs! Finally, would
also like to see more diversity in our Librarian (management) staf as I
think the diversity would help the Library better serve all communities in
Menlo Park.

Lynne Bramlett


Received on Tue Aug 22 2017 - 17:40:24 PDT

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