Walnut Creek Library Foundation
The Walnut Creek Library Foundation (WCLF) raises private funds to support Walnut Creek’s two public libraries with new facilities, larger collections, new and more available technology, and enhanced programs and services. Founded in 1998 by a group of community leaders including representatives from city government and Friends of the Library, the Foundation has raised over six million dollars and has a board of eighteen and a staff of two.
ACT previously engaged with the Walnut Creek Library Foundation in 2009-10 and helped the Foundation address issues they were about to face as they transitioned from a capital campaign to a “foundation forever.” WCLF has had a very successful three years and a balanced budget for the first time. The libraries are currently facing a significant reduction in hours of operation given reduced City and County funding, and the Library Foundation anticipates that the community that supports the Foundation will expect the Foundation to address this challenge. The WCLF board strongly feels that hours for public libraries should be funded by public monies. This dilemma is causing WCLF to examine its mission and purpose, and WCLF intends to reorganize in 2014 with an emphasis on advocacy.
The Stanford ACT project focused on the future role of the Foundation. The ACT team addressed the Foundation’s mission in general as well as the Foundation’s role in the implementation of the operating hour cutback and in softening its impact on the community.
In a three-phase project, the ACT team conducted interviews of appropriate City staff, WCLF Board members and stakeholders, and others relevant to the issues being studied. The team presented their findings, analysis, and recommendations to the WCLF in a PowerPoint format.
The team also presented a mid-term review of its preliminary findings and analysis to give the WCLF an indication of how things were progressing and to provide WCLF with the opportunity to provide feedback to the team. A final presentation followed any subsequent research and analysis.
- Continue current support of programs, collections and facilities
- Consider programming strategies that support the goal of increased outreach
- Adopt strategic marketing/communication plan with an emphasis on advocacy, outreach, and support building
- Realize that Foundation supporters/advocates will have to continue involvement in political arena (City Hall and 2016 Council election)
The crisis was averted at the time but really just postponed to 2017. The City does not have any library funds in their long term, 2017-18 budget. This means the libraries would then only be open four days a week, as they are funded by the County for thirty-five hours per week. The ACT team advised the Foundation not to be comfortable that the crisis had passed and is no longer in local headlines. The Foundation needs to continue the momentum during the two years to market the value of libraries to the community and make them aware of the 2017 funding shortfall. The goal is to elect Council Members in the 2016 Election who value libraries and will support funding. The Foundation needs to make advocacy their primary strategy.
Final Report Outline
- The Foundation
- Key considerations
At the end of 2014, Walnut Creek Libraries were being reduced to thirty-five hours per week from fifty-six hours, resulting in libraries open four days a week instead of six days. The ACT team worked with the Foundation, City Council Members and Community Stake Holders to pressure the City to commit additional funding. The effort was a success, and 2015 and 2016 hours were fully funded out of City Reserves and reverted back to fifty-six hours.