Clayton library has highest volunteer support in countywide system

By Julie Pierce on March 11, 2013

Eighteen years ago this month, we opened our Clayton Community Library. It was a grand celebration following years of planning, fundraising and building re-designs. The effort was a collaboration of the Clayton Community Library Foundation, AAUW, CBCA, Woman’s Club, the City of Clayton and many volunteers, but the leaders then, as now, were our wonderful “library ladies,” Joyce Atkinson and Jeanne Boyd. A big “congratulations” to all who helped get it built and who continue to make it one of the busiest and most efficient libraries in the county library system.

The Contra Costa Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) has issued a report critiquing the provision of library services within Contra Costa County, including the Contra Costa County Library which operates our Clayton Community Library. Some of the information contained within the LAFCO document is intriguing as it pertains to Clayton’s facility and operation.

For example, the median operational hours of the 29 libraries in the County is 35 hours per week; Clayton’s library is open 44 hours per week, including the city-paid four hours on Sunday afternoons. That places us number 18 of the 29 in terms of highest number of hours open to the public. Orinda and Danville are the highest at 60 hours per week.

Clayton’s library was built in 1995 and the facility is rated as in “Good” condition (the second highest of the four rankings). At 15,500 square feet it is fairly large. Though no attribution is given for its source, the report included a most interesting statement as to “Facility Needs:” “Clayton Library needs expansion (+3,500 sq. ft.) and upgrades (automatic checkout and coffee area) at a cost of $1 million. The project is not presently funded or budgeted by the City.” Sounds nice — does anyone need another project and more fundraising?

Regarding expenses to conduct library services in Clayton, the operational cost (paid by the county system) is $717,700; the facility cost (all maintenance and utilities are paid by the City of Clayton) is $132,765; the operational cost per square foot is $6 and the per capita cost is $1, yes one dollar!

As expected, Clayton’s operational cost per square feet and per capita were at the low and lowest end of the ranges for the various libraries. For comparison, the Orinda and Kensington libraries were at the high end of cost per square feet ($69 and $110, respectively), while the new Lafayette Library posted the highest cost per capita at $26.

The Contra Costa Library system is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and library visits countywide continue to increase dramatically. Clayton’s library has among the highest circulation while serving our community with 3/5 the normal staff. With 95 adults and 53 students, Clayton boasts the highest participation of volunteers in the county system with 7,773 hours; a monetary value of over $187,951 in time!

Last year, the Clayton Library Foundation raised more than $45,889 through donations and its twice-annual book sale (next one is April 12 to 14) and contributed $43,604 to purchase new materials, fund our volunteer coordinator position and support our library.

The LAFCO review makes for rather dry reading, but reflects very well on the quality of our Clayton Community Library. Congrats to all on our first 18 years!


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