At a Sept. 19 meeting, the non-profit , voted to donate $10,000 to the literacy program, helping close a gap left by cuts in funding from the California State Library.
Sue Mark, the literacy program director, said she believes the gift will enable Alameda Reads to continue operating through the end of the calendar year.
Normally, said Mark, the literacy program receives notification from the California State Library in July, at the start of the fiscal year, about how much money it can expect to receive. This year Alameda Reads will not know what to expect in terms of funding until January, 2012, six months into the fiscal year. “We don’t know what the state will offer us then, either,” said Mark.
Alameda Reads usually receives between $18,000 and $20,000 a year from the State Library to cover its operating expenses. The City of Alameda pays for the program's staffing.
According to Alameda Free Library Director Jane Chisaki, the State Library has indicated that although funding for public libraries is in the state budget, it is tied to California State Assembly Bill 121. This is a "trigger bill" that requires that the State meet a projected revenue target by December or make further cuts.
Chisaki said all public library funding is on the State's possible "further cut" list. After the December deadline, if funds are available to the State Library, any funding will be released to various library jurisdictions after Jan. 15, 2012.
Since state revenues do not appear to be coming in as high as once estimated, Chisaki said she approached both the Friends of the Alameda Free Library and the Alameda Free Library Foundation to help save the literacy program by splitting the operating expense and possibly funding $10,000 each.
As a result, the Friends of the Alameda Free Library did vote to donate $10,000 for the city's current fiscal year 2011-12 and the Friends' 2011 fiscal year. (The Friends organization operates on a calendar year budget and is also considering the Library's request for program funding for 2012 now.)
Chisaki said the library has also included a request for $10,000 for Alameda Reads which would then be applied to the City's 2012-13 fiscal year.
"The Library Foundation is very supportive of the request, "said Chisaki. "They are still considering the request for $10,000 to Alameda Reads and are trying to work out, based on their spending policy, how they will give the money.
"Last month I received $2,000 from the Foundation for Alameda Reads and additional funds are forthcoming.
'I feel confident that the Alameda Free Library Foundation will also be contributing $10,000 towards the operation fund for Alameda Reads."
Their support for the literacy program will take other forms as well. The Alameda Free Library Foundation will have a table with more information about Alameda Reads at all three , while the Friends of the Alameda Free Library will have a table promoting Alameda Reads at their .
Said Chisaki, "The library is very lucky to have such generous and hard-working support groups as the Friends of the Alameda Free Library and the Alameda Free Library Foundation."
Mark, the Alameda Reads director, is also working to establish partnerships with the Alameda Adult School and the Peralta Community College District, but she is not optimistic. “So many of these other places are also facing tremendous budget cutbacks themselves,” she said.
“I am committed to this program thriving and surviving,” said Mark.
Mark has held her part-time director position for six months, but has been in the literacy field 15 years. For seven of those years she conducted training workshops for Alameda Reads.
Besides Mark, the program employs one other part-time staff member. The heart of the organization, Mark said, is volunteer tutors. Currently there are 40, and 14 more will be trained soon.
For more about the program itself, read this article.