Richmond librarians to rally against possible cuts

Richmond Public Library hours expand
Richmond Public Library at 325 Civic Center Plaza.

By Kathy Chouteau

A collective of local librarians, activists and community members are protesting possible cuts to Richmond Public Libraries’ services as it considers how to reduce a $27 million dollar budget deficit. 

Referring to themselves as “Save Richmond CA Public Libraries,” the group is concerned the council will vote to “eliminate library services that the most vulnerable and disenfranchised members of our community depend upon,” per a statement on its website.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, Councilmember Jael Myrick and City Manager Laura Snideman told the public that library services will not be eliminated under current budget proposals, even in the worst-case scenarios. No library branches will be closed, they said, although there could be service reductions. For example, library hours could possibly be reduced from six hours to five hours Monday through Friday to save on costs, Finance Director Markisha Guillory said.

However, the group, “Save Richmond CA Public Libraries,” is calling for no library cuts, no firings, full funding and expansion of services.

Saturday’s protest includes a socially distant “Tailgate Story Time” at the Richmond Public Library’s Bayview Branch, 5100 Hartnett Ave. in Richmond, at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 6.

A car caravan will then head for the Richmond Public Library’s Main Branch at 325 Civic Center Plaza in Richmond, for a second story time at 11 a.m. the same morning.

Save Richmond CA Public Libraries will be accepting donations of new or used books for the Bayview and West Side branches. Participants are encouraged by organizers to showcase their support by decorating their vehicles and bringing noisemakers for the car caravan.

The event is described by organizers as a “child friendly, socially distant, community gathering to protest the budget cuts, layoffs and branch closures being considered by the Richmond City Council.” To learn more about the effort, click here.

A separate demonstration is also occurring at Richmond Civic Center on Saturday. At noon, a demonstration and march is planned to protest police brutality in response to the killing of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody.