Letter: Committee to Support Schaberg Wants a Public Meeting

Documents such as these addressed to local government can be requested by the public.

Editor's Note: In the spirit of , dedicated to an open and transparent government, Patch has decided to publish a letter that the Committee to Support Schaberg is sending to various Redwood City government entities. These and other letters are public documents that any resident can request under the California Public Records Act.


An open letter to Library Director Dave Genesey, the Redwood City Library Board, the Redwood City City Council and Library Foundation Director Georgi LaBerge:

As you all know, much discussion and publicity have occurred around the shortened Schaberg hours and the possibility of a Schaberg closure (a possibility confirmed by both Director Dave Genesey and Councilwoman Barbara Pierce).

Funds were discovered by the Library Director in September, 2010 that could greatly benefit Schaberg. Perhaps being open five days a week, instead of four, allowing for weekend hours and after school time 80 percent of the week for schoolchildren.

However, it has been reiterated that these dollars will only be used to fund programs; with the first of these monies being earmarked for retired librarian Chuck Ashton at the rate of (at minimum) $90/appearance, even if the appearance is only 20 minutes as noted at the San Mateo County Reading Association tea, or is simply passing out brochures at the Preschool Preview night sponsored by the Redwood City Mothers’ Club.

Many people have offered to volunteer time either in helping out with programs or doing fundraising for programs. Something that is easier to do than fundraising for Schaberg hours (or staffing Schaberg, something volunteers cannot and should not do).

There has been no response from any of you regarding these offers or why, as it was stated “That ship has sailed” in regards to ever considering using these funds for a jewel of a library.

Please let the community know why you believe that programming at the cost of a library (or, at the moment, access to the library) is a fiscally responsible decision? Especially, as has been noted, we are willing to help work together in order to fill programming gaps.

What we have been asking for is a public meeting but that has not been forthcoming (private meetings have been suggested by a member of council, but we believe that having everything in the open is the best course to take) with both directors and perhaps a representative from the City Council along with members of the greater community.

If we all have the same goal, wonderful, accessible libraries for our community, then this meeting will result in a stronger library and a stronger community.

The Committee to Support Schaberg

Eggbert March 17, 2011 at 01:41 AM
Thank you, thank you, to the Committee, in whole and as individuals. Redwood City taxpayers are in your debt! $90 for 20 minutes work? Where do I sign up? I'm assuming this gentleman got a friendly backroom deal. Even more offensive than those would normally be, given our economy and the proposed compromises for Schaberg.
Regina Kipp March 17, 2011 at 05:11 AM
Thank you to the Committee for keeping the ball rolling on the Schaberg issue. Do not let up on this. Schaberg has been and always will be the library for the people between Hudson St. and the Emerald Hills area. Why should we have to go downtown when Schaberg has always been there. Lets keep it in our neighborhood where it belongs.
Lori McBride March 17, 2011 at 02:18 PM
This library has been a little treasure in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, the library management has not made good decisions on how to run it over the years. I have lived in Redwood City for 32 years. It was a wonderful place to take my children for story time, library special events, and to get books when they needed to do school projects. The Community Room downstairs was a nice place to hold community meetings or library events requiring space. Schaberg was remodeled twice from the 1980-s through 1990-s. Then for some reason I will never understand, the library director chose to make Schaberg a "browsing" library. This involved another remodel and the removal of a huge percent of the books. Now my kids could find no books for reports. Then the hours were changed and cut the last few years until it was only opened Mon.-Thurs. from 1-6. How can people who work use this library when it's only open these hours? Why would it be closed on Saturday? These patrons were forced to go to another library. Were hours cut at the other 3 libraries? Personally, I choose not to go to the Main Library where I have to deal with parking and meters. I now go to Woodside's Library. The Redwood City community (which includes Emerald Hills) deserves to have this library available for use.
Sharon Levin March 17, 2011 at 04:04 PM
The library did recently change hours in order to include Saturday, but Monday was lost, so there is no gain of library hours. Schaberg's current hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday from 1-6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10-3. While it is nice to have Saturday hours back, school age kids now have two days a week when they cannot go to Schaberg after school. In addition to limiting student access, studies show that during tough economic times that library use goes up significantly. This makes it even more confusing and infuriating that access to this library is so limited. --Sharon, member Committee to Support Schaberg (and former Library Board member)
Rita Melton March 17, 2011 at 04:28 PM
I fully support what the Schaberg committee is doing. This library provides crucial community services to a large population of school children, seniors and more. It is a place that I have been able to walk to for over 15 years and prefer over our downtown branch. I agree with an earlier comment questioning WHY has the content of this branch been diminished. Less books makes no sense. I now have to constanly request books to be brought here. Lastly, those of us who support Schaberg are VERY frustrated with how the survey for hours was handled. Talk about a botched process.
Bonnie Courtney-Rodriguez March 17, 2011 at 04:42 PM
Our family loves Schaberg Library. My son attends Roosevelt School and his tutor brings him there several times a week to tutor him. We check out books on a weekly basis and find this to be such a cute and quaint library. I was really disappointed when they cut their hours during the week (Monday & Friday the library is completely closed). Please, please keep this gem of a library open.
Sharon Levin March 17, 2011 at 06:19 PM
Just got this response from Director Genesy that was sent just to me and the Library Board (not to be picky, but I do believe that communicating with the board as a whole outside of public discussion is a violation of the Brown Act. I am not 100% sure, but that is my understanding) FYI After talking with the mayor and city mgr, the mayor will be issuing a series of budget memos to the community including the use of one time funds and volunteering. He will not address directly this letter. I will not either. Let me know what you hear! Thanks Dave\ ----- I will also add to this that I asked Councilwoman Pierce about the 'policy' not to use one time finds (regardless of the size) for staffing etc. and she was very clear that this is NOT set in stone and has simply been seen that way, but it is NOT a law, just a CHOICE by local government
mostlylurker March 18, 2011 at 05:45 PM
As a parent of young children, I'd much rather have the Schaberg Library open more and less of Chuck's appearances. I've been to many of his readings and puppet shows, and while entertaining for some of the youngest kids, they aren't worth the money. At all.
Sharon Levin March 19, 2011 at 12:33 AM
Yes and another concern I have is that the Library Director and the Foundation want Chuck to head up the 5th grade library card outreach program. This would be MANY hours at the rate of $45/hour. While, I do agree that Chuck has appeal for the youngest kids, but songs and storytelling will not get the 5th graders to think about coming to the library. As a children's literature reviewer and a professional presenter about children's literature, I have offered NUMEROUS TIMES to go 'booktalk' (book commercials) to the 5th graders in Redwood City and I would do it for free. I have done this in various schools in the city (Kennedy and Orion) and what I hear from the kids, teachers and parents is that the kids leave the talks with the booklists I've given them and immediately want to read the books. I do not understand why the city is turning down the support of citizens in order to continue spending money in this way.
Eggbert March 19, 2011 at 01:40 AM
Who is this Chuck Ashton, and what hold does he have over the powers that be at the library board and Foundation? Why would people who work in service of Redwood City citizens not respond to an honest, straightforward request for information? What does Mr. Ashton offer them that trumps personal and professional integrity? That compels them to put aside the public good and clear priorities? Question for Stacie Chan: does Patch intend to do any legwork on this story? Will a reporter and/or a camera attend meetings of the Library Board, the Foundation, the City Council, to get some straight answers here? Has there been any attempt to get comment from Mr. Ashton? Perhaps he can make a compelling case as to why he needs this money more than the patrons of Schaberg need a full-service library branch.
Bud March 19, 2011 at 03:53 AM
Perhaps the City Council could take a " Pay Cut " to help with the city budget woes ... if they keep paying Chuck the way they do, the little fund they have will run dry soon and then what ... more layoffs and pay cuts to hard working employees so they can continue to feed Chucks bank account ! Library Director ... GET A CLUE !!!
Bud March 19, 2011 at 04:07 AM
To Sharon Levin .... I highly respect and applaud your efforts in this matter and I look forward to a positive outcome. It's people like you that give a damn that REALLY make the difference ! Myself and our neighborhood really want to thank you !
Sharon Levin March 19, 2011 at 04:20 AM
Thank you. I am very lucky because I am not alone in this. There is a committee (and anyone who wants to be on our e-mail list, please do let me know) and wonderful people like you letting us (the committee) know that there is a lot of support. Not only for Schaberg Library, but for honest and open government. I am still hoping that our city officials will agree to an open, public forum very soon. The 'solution' of sending out a memo about this of course makes dialogue completely impossible. Again, thank you and thank you to everyone who is supporting this effort. As I keep saying (since I am a children's lit person) 'All the whos in whoville need to keep saying "We are here, we are here, we are here!!!"
Nada March 19, 2011 at 07:19 PM
I just came from Schaberg; picked up a book on hold, and browsed the shelves--the first chance I have had all week! Thank you, Sharon and your committee, for getting us Saturday hours. I hope we can get an actual increase in hours, not just this helpful switch--our libraries are increasingly important in these times when school budgets are being cut and so many are out of work. Realizing that the city budget is suffering too, I'm going to look for ways to contribute--joining Friends of the Library may be an easy start.
Diana Post March 20, 2011 at 11:41 PM
Yes, let's continue to fight to keep Schaberg Library open. This Library is within walking distance for me and I walk over and pick up my holds, DVDs, books. I also use the computer and printers, copy machine there. Keeps me off the roads during the day. Thank you Sharon for all your hard work.


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