Travis Road Ahead
Travis Road Ahead

Community volunteers are key to Clayton ­library’s success

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On March 7, Clayton will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the grand opening of our beloved Clayton Community Library.

You will find the schedule of activities for the day by clicking here, but I wanted to give you some background on how this library came to exist.

Burkin Electric

For years, Clayton’s only local access to library services was through semi-weekly visits of the county book mobile. Patrons could visit the book mobile and check out or request books to be delivered with the next visit. That worked fairly well if one only needed the latest novel, but not so well if a student needed information for a homework assignment due the next day.

Sometime in 1988, the book mobile broke down and was not replaced – and Clayton was once again without library services.

Veronice Gomez State Farm
Veronice Gomez State Farm

In March 1989, a group of women from the Clayton branch of the American Association of University Women met to fulfill a long-held dream to have a brick and mortar library. Joyce Atkinson and Jeanne Boyd worked with the county librarian, Clayton city administrators and City Council members to make the dream a reality.

Funds from state Prop. 85 were available for construction of libraries, and dedicated volunteers spent many hours raising the matching dollars to qualify for the grant. The Oakhurst housing project was being planned during this time, and the city required the developer to dedicate property for a library, among many other amenities we enjoy today. The city now owned the property, which we could contribute as part of the matching “funds” for the grant.
The state required the land to be free of buildings to qualify for the grant. The historic Keller barn on the property had to go – its demolition was a sad sign of progress.

East Bay Regional Parks
East Bay Regional Parks

We retained an architect to design a building that fit with Clayton’s history. The first design was a bit avant-garde for the community’s taste, and the second design is what we see here today. The old Keller barn and the library site were on a protected Miwok Indian burial ground, which necessitated the library have a floating foundation to protect the artifacts and lots of fill to raise the building out of the flood zone.

Construction began in March 1994, and we celebrated the grand opening on March 4, 1995. Working with a small group of county library staff, more than 200 community volunteers helped set up the library books and materials.

R&M Gardens

Another hurdle we faced was the cost to staff the library with adequate hours. At that time, all libraries operated with county staff – no volunteers were allowed under the county’s union rules. With the help of then county supervisor (now Congressman) Mark DeSaulnier, then county librarian Anne-Marie Gold and union leadership, Clayton leaders negotiated a new model allowing the use of volunteers at all county libraries.

That model requires the city to provide and maintain the facility at its cost. The county library system provides the professional staff and a base minimum number of hours for each jurisdiction. If a community wants additional hours, that city pays the difference in cost.

Ouimet Funeral Chapel

That management model we negotiated in 1995 is now the standard for all libraries in the county. The Clayton Community Library has always operated with a 3/5 paid staff. Clayton’s library has the highest number of volunteer hours of any in the county. Our volunteers help make the Clayton Community Library the best library in the county.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions, comments or concerns. You can email me at Julie.p@ci.clayton.ca.us or call 925-673-7320. Leave me a message and a contact number or email, so I can get back to you.

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