Antioch Now Has Two Libraries, But Little Funding for Them

Recently the Mirant Gateway Center for Learning Library opened in the new Antioch Community Center on Lone Tree Way. As long-time residents know, Mello-Roos funds enabled the construction of a high school, 2 middle schools, 5 elementary schools, and the Prewett Family Water Park. The remaining $26 million in funds went towards the construction of the combined library, community center and police substation project. Frankly, I don’t know if the project came in on budget or not but here’s hoping.

However, the problem today, which we knew going into the project, is the operating cost of the facility and Antioch’s two libraries. Unfortunately, Governor Jerry Brown has a plan to alter how libraries are funded and utilized. His proposal is to cut $30.4 million in state funding for local libraries ($12.9 million for books and materials, $12.9 million to reimburse libraries that lend books outside their service area, and $4.6 million from literary programs). The budget cut would also cut off support that helps hire staff, purchase books and maintain hours of operation.

The result, according to State Librarian Stacey Aldrich, is that some facilities would have to charge for library cards, which they have avoided doing, partly because otherwise they wouldn’t qualify for a share of state funding.

The Governor’s office, specifically his Finance Director Ana Matosantos, suggested cities could use money freed up by the Governor’s proposal to eliminate redevelopment agencies to replace the reduced funding. State money, however, makes up just a fraction of public libraries’ budgets, which rely primarily on local taxes which have declined in an adverse economy.

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