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At the urging of the Placer County Board of Supervisors, the planned April 7 vote about a proposal to close the Meadow Vista and Loomis branch libraries will be delayed, in light of significant public interest in keeping the libraries open.

The time will be used to continue the dialog with local community leaders and the public, to see if there are any other viable alternatives, aside from closure, to continue to fund the libraries.

“We face a very real fiscal crisis in our library system; but, as we’ve spoken to the public, we’ve heard loud and clear that they do not want their libraries to close,” said Mary George, director of library services for Placer County. “So the decision has been made to slow down this process to allow more time for planning and brainstorming with local leaders to see if we can find a solution that meets our financial needs and the community’s desire for continued library services.”

The Placer County Library system has been relying on reserves for several years, due to escalating costs and the significant decrease in property taxes as a result of the recession. While the economy is beginning to improve, the costs are still climbing, and the funding has not bounced back as quickly, leaving many libraries with shortened hours, long-deferred maintenance and lacking current materials, technology, and programming that patrons expect to find.

As library staff presented their challenges and proposed solution at various municipal advisory committee meetings, town council meetings and other public forums, they heard from people who are very passionate about keeping the libraries open, or at least finding some way to maintain the community space that many say is their primary use of the library.

“I’m pleased that we have a little more time to work with the towns affected by the proposed library closures to work on some alternatives,” said District 3 Supervisor Jim Holmes. “We are hearing several ideas from the public and I’m optimistic we may be able to find some middle ground here.”

District 5 Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery says she’s heard from dozens of people who seem most concerned about the loss of the community focused aspect of their libraries. “At a minimum, I’m hoping we can find some alternatives that keep that community space available for people to enjoy and still provide suitable locally based library services,” she said. “But it is an excellent idea to slow this down some and make sure we’ve considered all of the options people have suggested for saving our libraries.”

This delay came at the urging of supervisors Holmes and Montgomery to county staff. The April 7 presentation to the Board of Supervisors will now be an informational update only.

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