Should Hayward have a storefront library system?

Responding to today’s Review story on the Hayward library system, Fairway Park resident and activist Mimi Bauer proposes installing no-frills storefront libraries instead of building one big new one. Here’s her e-mail:

I read the article in the Daily Review today regarding the inadequacy of Hayward’s two-branch library system. I agree.

Both branches are inconvenient for the Fairway Park community. I spoke to Bill Quirk a little while ago about Fairway Park’s desire for a satellite branch in our shopping center. I have seen this idea up in the Grass Valley area. It works real well. A store front space in a shopping center can accommodate a couple of computers, some newspapers, magazines, some current reading material and a few tables and chairs for work and reading. At the satellite branch you can pick up and drop off books that you requested on line from home, office or there. It can be staffed by two people (an early shift and a late shift, with them both on during the mid day to take care of breaks, etc.).

Perhaps the old way of building larger and larger fixed location libraries no longer works with our ever shifting and expanding population. Perhaps our libraries need to become flexible and adaptable. What about having a network of satellite store front libraries at shopping strips located all over the city. Everyone would be within a easy reach of what the library has to offer. Seniors and students could easily get to them.

Mimi! The cost!! To rent space in a bunch of shopping centers and staff each one and have a truck transfer books between them. Do you realize what that entails? Newspapers, magazines, desks, chairs, computers for each one! What are you thinking?! Well, I’m thinking that you would need just as many desks, chairs, computers and possibly staff for the proposed new big library; I think you already have a truck that transfers books between the two branches; and I think your cost of renting the spaces in the shopping centers and paying for staff for many decades would easily be covered by the $30+million you plan to spend to build the new library which would be located in only one place and be convenient for only one section of the city.

I’m thinking you could do it in stages and not have to commit to $30+ million. I think that you could get a good rate from the shopping center owners because you would be bringing people to their centers that would possibly stay for a while and they know that equates to sales and a friendlier and safer place to shop. That, of course, would help the city and neighborhoods; give a safe place for good kids to go close to home, increase the city’s sales tax, less crime for police to deal with. Yes, I do know what I am thinking. We could think out of the box and provide a solution that fits the current problem instead of doing the same old thing that no longer meets the changed needs of society. Let’s try it and see. It is a lot easier to test one satellite branch at a shopping center then to try to find the $30 million for the big library.

Best regards,

Mimi Bauer
Fairway Park Neighborhoods Assoc.