Supes weigh in on library critique

07/18/2013

County supervisors submitted a mixed response on Tuesday to the citizen watchdog that earlier this year reported layers of inadequacies in the Marin County Free Library. In its April 29 report, the Marin County Civil Grand Jury criticized the county library system for excluding employees from planning and failing to report how it is using taxpayer monies, which account for 16 percent of its budget. The Library Commission and the Library Foundation were also chided for insufficient oversight and communication with county supervisors, and for not creating long-term financing plans for the 10-branch district. A recent county-commissioned survey of employees found that nearly half lacked confidence “in senior management’s leadership,” and only 31 percent responded favorably. The library’s vision plan, released last year, described “declining” morale as one of the department’s weaknesses. Supervisors agreed with half of the jury’s findings, and said several of their recommendations require further analysis. They asserted that library employees are about as engaged in their work as other county employees are, but promised to increase participation in things like communications audits and major decision-making in the future. They defended the library’s use of “extra hires,” or temporary workers that do not receive the same benefits as full-time employees, but agreed with the watchdog that the Library Commission had not satisfactorily acted as a liaison with them or given input on the use of Measure A funds. In the future, they said, the library should provide an annual report of Measure A spending, as well as develop a new vision plan that draws from but also advances a 2007 plan.