The Stockton-San Joaquin Public Library system has been much in the news this week following the recent resignation of head librarian Chris Freeman. Today, Freeman sent the following email in which he outlined accomplishments that occurred during his four-year tenure in Stockton:
“What with all the negative press I’m receiving for having resigned from my position (something people do everyday), I thought I’d drop you a line regarding some of the positive changes that took place at SSJCPL during my four year tenure there. Mind you, I’m not taking full credit for all of these achievements; most projects require a team of staff. However, I was doing my job as the leader of the Library in identifying areas where we could improve and then determining how we could bring those improvements to fruition. What follows is a summary of the improvements made to the Library of which I’m most proud.
“Over the past four years, open hours to the public have increased in five SSJCPL branches during a period of time when the Library budget was the lowest it had been for over a decade. Two of those branches, Angelou and Weston Ranch, actually added three days and two days of service respectively. That’s right, when I arrived in 2010, the Weston Ranch library was only open two days a week and Angelou three. Now they both offer five days of service to the public. Furthermore, every branch in the system now offers evening hours. When I arrived, not a single location, including the Chavez Central Library, was open later than 6 pm. And weekend hours? There weren’t many. Now every San Joaquin County branch is open at least one weekend day (some are open both) and, in the City of Stockton branches, schedules are staggered between the four libraries so that there is six day a week service across the City. Lastly, in 2010, when the worst of the budget cuts required the closure of the Fair Oaks Library, I was able to move the bulk of that collection into a reading room in the nearby Stribley Community Center so as to not completely deprive that part of town of library service.
“Another accomplishment of which I’m proud is having raised the professionalism of the staff throughout the library system. In 2010, the Lathrop and Mountain House libraries were both staffed purely by part-time, not-degreed employees. Today, every library in the system has at least one master’s degree-educated librarian, insuring the quality of service and management expertise that library users expect.
“The Library has increased its rate of overdue fine collection as a result of the deployment of credit/debit card payment capacity (something the Library did not offer prior to 2010) and as a result of some changes to overly lenient policy that allowed customers to carry balances for extended periods of time.
“The Library has also made improvements to the collections it offers the community. Today, library users can download digital eBooks and audiobooks from the SSJCPL website 24 hours a day from anywhere. The Library also recently began lending eReaders pre-loaded with as many as 15 titles in a variety of genres from which the reader can choose. A relatively small portion of the collection budget was used to join a two-state lending cooperative comprised of 55 public and academic libraries from which library users can borrow freely. This cooperative, because of its size and diversity, offers SSJCPL users access to over 11 million unique titles to complement the much smaller SSJCPL collection.
“At the time of my hire, San Joaquin County government was very interested in severing its agreement with the City of Stockton that allowed the City to manage County libraries. The County felt that there had been very little transparency from the City for several years. I played a large role in improving the relationship with the County, negotiating a new contract for the provision of library services, and creating transparency through the provision of financial and statistical data that the County had not received prior.
“Lastly, I, along with a team of Library staff, developed a new strategic plan for the Library that we completed earlier this month.”
Vincent Sayles is running for school board but instead of attending tonight’s SUSD meeting, he’s at the City Council meeting railing against gays and “homosex.” He also disputed a long-ago Record article in which it was suggested some believe he suffers from a mental illness. But he did agree with that article that God “is my boss.”
When Sayles finished, Mayor Anthony Silva noted that he is running for school board and added, “May I suggest you go to school board meetings on Tuesday nights?” Sayles responded, “I intend to do so. I just haven’t found out where they are yet.”
FYI: 701 N. Madison, about four blocks from here.
Here’s today’s story on the Stockton-San Joaquin Public Library. At least 30 people at the City Council meeting tonight in support of the library system and here’s what some had to say:
Ahmed Salim: “Please do not proceed with any recruitment process (for library leadership) until we have a chance to discuss the future of the library. Right now our library needs a leader … to accept the challenge of restoring our library.”
Shari Garibaldi: “We’re very concerned about the library. The library is a very important service for this community.” For building literacy, she said, “One doesn’t become a proficient reader without having books at their disposal.”
Colleen Foster: “The library is an important community service for early literacy, continuous literacy, business, lifelong literacy and just for fun. The library needs to be strengthened. … Vacancies make this an opportunity … so we can recruit a strong leader to take the library into the future. We need a strong library led by a department head to lead the library into a bright post-bankruptcy future.”
Bill Maxwell: “We’re at bedrock. From this point we can start to build.”
Sherman Spencer: “I’m simply appalled at what’s happened to the collection in the last four years. Some collections have been gutted. The music history section, for example, has one book on Bach. We used to have eight or 10. When we get a new library director, I hope it’s someone who likes books.”
Traci Gregg of Stockton is sporting a t-shirt at tonight’s meeting honoring Mayor Anthony Silva. It was created by her brother, Norm Gregg, a Bay Area artist.
“I support the mayor,” said Traci Gregg, adding of her shirt, “It’s an original one-of-a-kind no one else can ever have.”
Community Development Director Steve Chase is urging all citizens with a concern over how we move about the city — and particularly those residents with the least amount of gray hair — to attend a public workshop at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Civic Auditorium. The city is holding public workshops the fourth Thursday each month as it works toward amending its General Plan.
I wrote recently about a business-tax incentive that has attracted a new company to Stockton, a clear victory for the city’s department of economic development.
But reader Paul Verdegaal, a University of California Cooperative Extension specialist in grape and almond cultivation in Stockton, raised some interesting questions in an email. In part, he wrote:
“The plan and expected results really raise the question in my mind of why elected ‘leaders’ at the County, State and Federal levels fail to see or simply ignore the obvious.
“If tax incentives encourage new business establishment and create jobs and increase tax collections (revenues); why aren’t lower taxes good for all businesses and individuals?
“It’s not a coincidence that Gov. Rick Perry is ‘stealing’ business from California; with the highest taxes and most regulations. I visited Texas not too long ago and it’s booming like I remember California once did, when I was a younger taxpayer.”
Recent Stagg High graduate Adrianna Owens recently shared a way to generate some funds for the student journalists who work for the Stagg Line newspaper.
She wrote, “If anyone has any old/broken electronics they can either call (800) 317-3112 or go to http://ewaste4good.com in order to schedule a free pick up and the money from the items will be given to The Stagg Line.”
So if you have stuff sitting around that you want to get rid of, call the number or visit the website for more information.
Mayor Anthony Silva has made it clear for months that he does not agree with all of the findings of the 2013-14 San Joaquin County Grand Jury, and he has made it clear this week he does not agree with the city’s legally-required response to the grand jury.
At last night’s City Council meeting, Silva submitted a document for the record (not for The Record) with his objections to Stockton’s response. He chalks the whole thing up to “dirty politics.”
You can view Silva’s two-page response to the response here.
Nothing to report out of closed session, on to public comment already.
Diane Buettner: She ripped The Record for “the same stuff that can’t be substantiated.” She said she does not buy it. She was not specific about what she was criticizing.
Vincent Sayles, who is running for the SUSD board, shared a Bible passage and said it was for “normal children,” then changed the adjective to “typical.” Now he is speaking about how the Supreme Court has legalized “homo-marriage.” Michael Tubbs called a point of order for Sales’ comments. Sales then said “homosexuals” are “going after children.”
Two 20-year-old speakers spoke about their belief that police officers should wear body cams. One, Michael Vallete, said, “I look over my shoulder not for gang-bangers but for police officers.”
That’s the end of public comment. In consent agenda, Item 12.7 was removed. A youth event Saturday has been postponed until Sept. 20.
As reported today, Mayor Anthony Silva is not in total accord with the proposed city response to the 2013-14 grand jury report.
The proposed response in question is here. The City Council also has to consider this response to a second grand jury report. The City Council is scheduled to vote at tonight’s meeting.