Salinas Mayor Launches Campaign to Keep Libraries Open

Article excerpt

Two months before all three Salinas (Calif.) Public Library branches were scheduled to close their doors (AL, Feb., p. 19), Mayor Anna Caballero has outlined a plan to keep them open on a limited basis, the Salinas Californian reported February 4. During a press conference held February 3 at the National Steinbeck Center in downtown Salinas, Caballero announced the formation of a blue-ribbon committee that will attempt to raise $500,000 by June 30, the last day of the fiscal year.

"We are here at this location to launch an effort to save our city, to save our libraries, and to save our pride," she said. Calling the campaign "Rally Salinas," Caballero asked residents to donate whatever they can. If the goal is reached, the funds will be turned over to the city to keep the three branches open at least one day a week from July to December.

"The only purpose for which this money is being raised is to keep the libraries open," Caballero emphasized.

The three branches are slated to close one by one between March 12 and April 16 due to an $8-million budget deficit that also threatens city recreation centers and the police force. Residents rejected two tax measures in November 2004 that would have raised enough money to prevent the closures (AL, Jan., p. 16).

The Rally Salinas campaign prompted the city council to consider rescinding its decision to close the libraries. The blue-ribbon committee, which Caballero chairs, will also work on an emergency tax measure that could keep the libraries open permanently.

Actor Bill Murray made a high-profile pledge of $12,500, his half of the winnings at the 3M Celebrity Challenge, a charity golfing event held February 9 prior to the AT & T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am tournament. Murray decided to switch his chosen charity halfway through the contest, after reading about the libraries' plight in a local newspaper. "Bill Murray, he's not Scrooge after all," Jan Neal, administrative manager at the John Steinbeck branch, quipped on NBC affiliate KSBW-TV, referring to one of Murray's screen roles.

Todd Leuders, president of the Community Foundation for Monterey County that oversees the fundraising effort, told American Libraries that he had received $64,730 after only four days of operation; this includes Murray's pledge and $25,000 sent by an anonymous donor who has promised to contribute another $75,000 in matching funds. …