What Sutter County government function connects 5,000 people a week to a diverse platform of information and opportunities? That would be the library, where you can do a lot more than just check out a book.
Nothing is wrong with books – they lent 322,191 books last year alone. The Sutter County library, however, is much more than a depository of literature. With items like a 3-D printer, computers, virtual reality equipment, sewing machines, and chess boards, the library continues to evolve to remain relevant in a world of changing habits.
Not every individual has access to computers and the internet, and the Sutter County library’s bank of computers is well utilized by those in search of information from around the world, or software for creating a job resume.
Most days, you can watch a three-dimensional printer at work – and even request items to be made. When a chess piece goes missing, staff will replace it with one generated from the 3-D printer. Because virtual reality head gears are popular with teenagers and adults, a variety of interactive films and games are available. One is a job simulator, which allows you to virtually experience what it is like to work in a retail store, in a machine shop, in an office, and other work environments.
The teen area regularly hosts gaming tournaments and kids daily use the computer to compete against each other. It is interactive and fun.
Every other week, the library has a multi-generational skill share program, with sewing machines, fabric, thread, knitting and crocheting supplies. Patrons come in and use it together, encouraging and learning new skills across generations.
The library’s Adult Literacy Program currently has 170 students enrolled in Citizenship Classes conducted at the library, Mahal Plaza, and April Lane School. The library recently released a video on YouTube as part of a California Humanities Grant which highlights dance in the community and promotes the Annual Women’s Dance hosted by the Library Literacy Program.
In May, the library plans its second “College Study Night,” when the library will be open after hours on the Friday and Saturday night preceding Yuba College finals week, for college students only. This service is funded by the Friends of the Sutter County Library, which is one of many grant sources that help fund programs.
The Sutter County Library receives about one half of one percent of the total Sutter County budget to operate and must rely on donations and grants for a lot of the activities. Sutter County is committed to continuing library operations – the library first opened 101 years ago.
But we can’t do it alone. As the supervisor representing the Second District, where the library is located, I challenge everyone to visit the library, see what is happening there, and ask our creative Library Director, James Ochsner, how you can help. Maybe it is an idea for a new program. Maybe it is an idea for new funding. The library, for instance, could use some help buying a microfiche reader to access old newspapers published in Sutter County – from the Sutter Farmer to the Independent Herald.
On the wish list for the library is a remodel. The existing main branch library at the corner of Clark and Forbes avenue was designed when the population of Yuba City was about 14,000. Today the city’s population is 66,800. Almost half of the people who live in the city limits of Yuba City hold active library cards. There are 44,000 cards issued countywide. With 260,000 people served yearly, I’d say we get more than our money’s worth from the Sutter County library.
Dan Flores represents the Second District on the Sutter County Board of Supervisors.