(10/8/03) Palo Alto libraries have been very much in the news lately, given the recent proposals to close the Downtown Library (see item below) and float a new bond measure. We polled all ten City Council candidates for the upcoming November 4 City Council election for their views on library issues, which are summarized here. Please read the full responses, which provide interesting and detailed insights as to how our libraries might evolve.
This letter is to convey our heartfelt thanks for the book donations you have given Elem Indian Colony. These books are very popular and have been used by all age groups. Particularly we welcome books for younger tribal members, ages 2 to 5 and adventure books for ages 8 to 14. Books are the educational door to the future and can be a turnkey to individual tribal members' future. When they break out of the isolation of the reservation and out into the world through books, many positive changes occur.
We hope you will be able to continue your book sharing program. We are extremely grateful to be a recipient of this worthwhile program.
Non-profits interested in receiving books from the Friends of the Palo Alto Library should contact Maggie Anderson by e-mail or at (650) 856-7741.
(9/10/03) With a donation from the Friends of the Palo Alto Library, the Palo Alto Library now has the entire World Book Encyclopedia online, available to all Palo Alto library cardholders from home, school, and office. Just go to the special World Book website and enter your Palo Alto library card number.
(8/6/03) As you know, our Cubberley sales room is completely overflowing with books, so we've been looking for adjacent space as well. Even before we moved into Cubberley, the city was aware that the space allocated to us was insufficient. For the next six months, we've been granted an extra 800 square foot space at Cubberley that's a relatively short walk from our present room. After that, we're hopeful even more space at Cubberley will become available for us. In the meantime, we'll let you know what books you'll find in the new room in future editions of this newsletter. Also, see the Palo Alto Weekly article.
(8/6/03) The Friends of the Palo Alto Library Annual Meeting will take place on the evening of October 30 at the Arts Center. More information will be provided in upcoming newsletters.
(8/6/03) Using funds from the Friends of the Palo Alto
Library, the library now offers free online practice entrance exams that
you can take from home or at a library computer. This spectacular
set of tests covers everything from 4th grade academics though graduate school
admissions. It takes just a minute to register, using a Palo Alto
Library card, and then you can immediately start taking the exams.
Here's what's available:
Academic: 4th Grade, 8th Grade, Catholic High School, FCAT, NYC Specialized High School, TASP
Graduate School Entrance: GMAT, GRE, LSAT, MCAT
(8/6/03) Behind the scenes of every book sale, our accounting staff busily totals up the sales figures while we all eagerly await the news. For July 2003, which includes special sales at Terman and the Children's Library, our book sales raised over $13,600. This is our second best month ever (recall how happy we were to raise $11,700 in June). Plus, the book sales raised over $120,000 in our fiscal year that ended in June 2003, despite the move to Cubberley and the closing of Terman, which continues to disrupt our operations. Our thanks to our thousands of customers, our donors who provide us with tens of thousands of books a month, and the 104 volunteers who put in close to 12,000 hours at the book sales over this last year.
(6/3/03) From the city's
awards declaration: The Library Division is proud to announce that Ann Shelby Valentine has been awarded
the 2003 Community Star Award. Shelby has served on the Board of the Friends of
the Palo Alto Library for five years, including two and a half years as
President from early in 2000 to September 2002. Her work with the Friends has
been, and continues to be, substantial.
In April 2002, she organized a kick-off birthday party to begin a two-year celebration of the Library's centennial. Her work with a graphic designer to produce a centennial poster resulted in a first-place award for excellence from the California Library Association. Under her Presidency, the Friends membership grew and fund-raising in support of the Library reached new levels. She has promoted the activities of the Friends before City Council, service organizations, and at street fairs.
Always a passionate supporter of the Palo Alto Library, Shelby also was a founding member of the Libraries Plus Bond Committee that worked on Measure D to improve library and other community service buildings. She also served on the committee that developed an improved site plan for the Main Library and the Art Center.
Shelby and her husband, Doug Molitor, have three children and reside in Palo Alto. She was recently reappointed by Governor Davis to serve as Santa Clara County's representative to the State's Area 7 Board on Developmental Disabilities.
(7/9/03) Last month's book sales, which included an outdoor sale at Cubberley, brought in an amazing $11,700. We couldn't be happier and we recently granted $36,700 to new and ongoing programs for the Palo Alto libraries. These include homework help at Mitchell Park ($14,000), online access from homes and the libraries to an encyclopedia and ACT, SAT, GMAT, GRE, LSAT, MCAT, and civil service exam preparation services ($6,700), upcoming performances and activities for children ($9,500), the summer reading program for children and teens ($2,500), and community reading programs ($1,000). All of these Palo Alto library services and programs are free to the public. Other revenues from our book sales will go towards the Children's Library repair and expansion project.
(7/9/03) Palo Alto's libraries have added almost 850 new DVD titles so far this year. To meet the great demand for these, the library has purchased multiple copies of many titles. For example, the library has four copies of the 2003 film "About Schmidt," but there are also currently 35 holds. You can search for DVDs and other titles and place free holds at the library's online catalog.
(6/17/03) The Palo Alto City Council voted to close the Terman Park Library, as of June 29 and cut hours at other branches. The Main Library will now close early on Fridays. The Downtown Library will only be open four days a week and the College Terrace library remains open only five days per week. See new hours and a Palo Alto Weekly article. Our book sale room at Terman will be obliged to close this year as well, although we hope to have additional space for books at the Cubberley Community Center.
(6/4/03) The Palo Alto City Council will likely vote on June 16 on a number of budget items that affect the libraries. Among the recommendations from the Finance Committee are to hire a library director by the end of the year, close the Terman Park Library, continue to have the Downtown Library open only five days per week, and have the College Terrace library resume being open six days per week. See Palo Alto Weekly article. Newspapers and city staff have attributed the Finance Committee's recommendation to unfreeze the library director position to our campaign. The Council received 257 green postcards that we asked people to send in, many with added personalized messages, 298 signatures, and 34 letters and e-mails, all in favor of hiring a library director.
(6/4/03) The Friends of the Palo Alto Library are happy to fund a free workshop for adults and older teens who would like to learn how to tell stories. Both new and seasoned storytellers are welcome. The workshop runs from 10 am to 5 pm on June 14 at the Terman Park Library meeting room . During break times, you'll also be able to visit our Terman book sale just a few rooms away. Please bring a bag lunch, wear comfortable clothing, and bring a short three to five minute story to work on. Cathryn Fairlee will lead exercises in voice, gestures, improvisation, visualization, feedback, and more. This event is also sponsored by the Peninsula Story Guild. Please register by e-mail.
(5/16/03) The City Council Finance Committee met on May 13 to discuss Palo Alto's budget crisis and made some changes to the city staff recommendations. The committee recommended that the vacant library director position be filled by the end of the year and that our book sales space at Cubberley be expanded if Terman closes. However, the Terman Park Library branch is still likely to be closed, although city staff will meet with school district representatives to examine alternatives. The committee also left in place the recommendations that the College Terrace and Downtown branches suffer further cutbacks in hours. See Palo Alto Weekly article.
(updated 5/7/03) There will be major cutbacks in library service and staffing under the proposed budget released recently. Among the proposed cuts are:
Closing the Terman Park branch (page 152)
Closing the Main Library on Friday evenings (page 152)
Not hiring a Library Director (page 146)
Reducing other library staff (pages 146-147)
Cutting hourly custodial support back by 30% (page 151)
The Friends of the Palo Alto Library believe that closing the Terman branch will save very little money, especially since we use that library space for book sales that raise tens of thousands of dollars annually for the libraries. If the branch is closed, we will have to end those sales. Please read our recent letter to the City Council about the closings and the San Jose Mercury article. We've also led a mail-in campaign to urge the city to fill the vacant library director position, as noted in a recent Palo Alto Weekly article (second item). Please send your opinions to the Council via e-mail, faxing to (650) 328-3631, or by writing to City Council, 250 Hamilton Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94301. Attend the May 13 evening meeting of the Council, where library budget cuts will be discussed (see Palo Alto Weekly article).
(4/13/03) On the evening before our regular book sales in May,
we're holding a special sale at our Cubberley book sale room just
for members of the Friends of the Palo Alto Library. This will give
our members an extra opportunity to purchase the latest books in our
This special book sale will run from 7 pm to 9 pm on Friday, May 9. If you are already a member, please bring the proof of membership from the Foreword issue that you will receive in the mail during April. If you are not a member yet, you may join online or at the sale itself. Our regular book sales will still take place at Cubberley and Terman on Saturday, May 10.
(4/10/03) Thanks to the extraordinary popularity of our sales and the hard work of our Book Sale Manager, Marty Paddock, and our many other volunteers, we earned over $10,000 at our March book sales. With books costing as little as 25 cents each, this represents a lot of books. All of the funds we raise from the book sales go to support the Palo Alto libraries.
(4/10/03) For a number of years, the Friends of the Palo Alto Library have provided free used books to non-profit organizations and public agencies. Eligible organizations come to our Terman Library book sale room on the Monday morning after each book sale and select the books from among the thousands available.?This program has distributed vast numbers of books to local hospitals, senior centers, schools, and jails, as well as to libraries in rural areas and on reservations, and to literacy projects in many other countries. For more information on eligibility, hours, and the types of materials available, please contact Maggie Anderson.
(3/19/03) Thanks to our many volunteers and gracious donors, the Friends of the Palo Alto Library has very low overhead costs. That means your donations go directly to help the libraries and are not wasted. While the Better Business Bureau recommends that no more than 35% of a charitable organization's expenses be for overhead, in our 2001-2002 fiscal year overhead accounted for a mere 3% of our expenses. In other words, 97% of the money we raised went for the Palo Alto libraries. Plus, when you donate online by credit card to help the Children's Library campaign, we not only receive 100% of your donation (we pay no credit card commission), but your tax-deductible contribution raises even more money for the library due to a current matching funds program. Just click here to make your contribution, and please be sure to say that it's for the Children's Library.
(3/15/03) Two recent surveys of Palo Alto residents show strong support for many aspects of our local libraries. To help identify areas for possible budget cuts, the City asked a sampling of residents via e-mail to rate the importance of 50 specific city services. The Palo Alto Daily News obtained the survey questions and asked all readers to respond as well. The two surveys obtained generally the same results. Virtually all of the top requested services were either for public safety (fire, emergency response, and police) or maintenance. The one exception was acquisition and lending of books and media for the library (#7 on the City's survey and #11 on the Palo Alto Daily News survey). Neighborhood library branches ranked #15 and #31, respectively. Having computers and Internet access at libraries ranked #23 and #39, while foreign language materials at the libraries ranked #47 and #45. One explanation for these rankings is that virtually all library users benefit directly from lending and an expanded collection, while only some use the neighborhood branches, library Internet computers, and foreign language materials. Many library services, such as maintaining hours and reference librarians, were not on the survey. Read the full survey results from the City of Palo Alto and the Palo Alto Daily News.
UPDATED! (3/19/03) The City of Palo Alto is considering closing the Terman Park Library and not filling the vacant Library Director position, due to anticipated budget shortfalls. However, the Friends of the Palo Alto Library recently pointed out to the City Council that closing the branch will save very little money, especially since we use that library space to raise tens of thousands of dollars annually for the libraries. We calculate that the closing would save less than 1% of the library's budget, which seems a small benefit for shutting down one of our six branches, and the only one that serves a significant segment of the city. Please read the letter we sent to the council and let them know how you feel by e-mail, faxing them at (650) 328-3631, or by writing to City Council, 250 Hamilton Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94301. Read the Palo Alto Weekly article.
(2/26/03) Despite a tight budget, the federal government has allocated $90,000 to help improve the Children's Library. These funds come on top of other recently-announced efforts to raise money for the Children's Library remodeling and expansion. Article in Palo Alto Weekly
(2/16/03) An anonymous foundation has donated $150,000 to the Friends of the Palo Alto Library to help repair and expand the Children's Library and offered an additional $200,000 in matching funds for this as well. As many in our community are aware, the Children's Library is in desperate need of seismic repair and of new space to support an expanded collection and more programs for youngsters.?We're very pleased and excited to have received the very generous $150,000 donation and are hoping to raise an additional $300,000 from other sources by the end of 2003 so as to qualify for the $200,000 in matching funds.?All totaled, that will represent $650,000 for the Children's Library. Article in Palo Alto Weekly
(2/5/03) Hard economic times are affecting Palo Alto and its
libraries. With a $9 million reduction expected in Palo Alto's $125
million general budget, our libraries are bracing for a city-wide
across-the-board budget cut of 5%. That percentage, if applied to the 2002-2003
anticipated library budget of $4.9 million, will reduce it by about
$245,000, making it
hard to maintain the present hours and services.
Already, two branches are going to curtail hours. Beginning on February 17, the College Terrace branch will be closed on Thursdays and the Downtown branch will be closed on Mondays. These reduced hours will be in effect at least until the end of the city's fiscal year on June 30, 2003. The city is also discussing closing the Terman library altogether.
It's up to those of us who use and enjoy the Palo Alto Library to help remedy this situation. You can make a difference by by volunteering at the library, buying books at our sales, donating your used books, joining the Friends of Palo Alto Library, and/or contributing financially to the library. Our library is a vital part of our community, so please do all you can to help it out during these times.
(2/5/03) Can you name the book that begins, "WHEN I WROTE the following pages, or rather the bulk of them, I lived alone, in the woods, a mile from any neighbor?" book games debuting this month, which is Library Lover's Month. Just click on the link above to explore your knowledge of English literature, modern novels, horror, children's books, science fiction, books made into films, and much more.
(2/5/03) To help celebrate Library Lover's Month, our local Community Access Channel is broadcasting a segment on the Palo Alto libraries, hosted by recently-retired Library Director Mary Jo Levy. You can see this segment at the following times throughout February:
Cable Channel 27
Wednesdays at 7:30 pm
Saturdays at noon
Cable Channel 28
Saturdays at 6:05 pm
(2/5/03) You can now connect your laptop to the Internet at Mitchell Park using 802.11b wireless access. This popular service is also available at the Main Library. More information
(2/5/03) The recent Palo Alto city auditor's report
(see page 29) demonstrates that our libraries serve our community well, but have
challenges too. Palo Alto's libraries circulate 9% more items per capita than five years
ago, and more than any other library in the neighboring cities on a per capita
Alto's six branches are open a combined total of 14,000 hours a year, whereas
adjacent cities as large or larger have just one to
three branches. In the most recent fiscal year, there were 815,630
library visits, including 26,224 attendees of family programs, many of
which are sponsored by the Friends of the Palo Alto Library.
Library patrons used over 80,000 hours of free Internet access during
the year too.
At the same time, costs have increased by some measures. For instance, the libraries cost $86 a year to run per capita, up 31% over the last five years. Meanwhile, the number of volumes that the library owns per capita has declined by 5% during that time. And while circulation is up, the number of cardholders has actually declined by 21% over the last five years.
(1/8/03) Join other Friends for a day trip by coach to the 36th California International Antiquarian Book Fair in downtown San Francisco on Saturday, February 8. Over 230 booksellers from 25 states and nine countries will exhibit at the fair, offering rare and antiquarian books, manuscripts and related materials priced from a few dollars to hundreds of thousands. The fair features early printed books, illustrated books, fine bindings, early American literature, modern first editions, children's books, maps, autographs, and antiquarian books on law, architecture, economics, gastronomy, wine and scores of other fields. The trip is sponsored by the Associates of the Stanford University Libraries, and we're sure you'll enjoy meeting their members as well. Tickets are $45 each and include admission to the fair, a light lunch at the fair, two seminars at the fair including Nicholas Basbanes speaking about book collecting strategy for the 21st century, and wine and cheese on the return ride. The coach will leave at 10 a.m. from behind Wells Fargo at Old Stanford Farm, 600 Quarry Road, at the Stanford Shopping Center and will leave San Francisco for the return at 4:15 p.m. Seats on the coach are limited, so please reserve yours today by contacting Sally Treadway at (650) 723-9426 or email@example.com.  The reservation deadline is January 31. More information about the fair.