Residents, business people and representatives of academic institutions are brainstorming to find ways to fund the library after the announcement it would close for about a year beginning in mid-August to save money for the cash-strapped city.
Council members asked city staffers to find another option to the library's closure and what they came up with was $400,000 that will fund the facility only for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.
"There's no question, (council members) don't want to close the library," said Councilwoman Paula Lantz, who invited community members to come up with ideas to keep the library open.
The challenge is finding the money to fund the library and its services, she said.
When the group met for the first time they heard Finance Director Paula Chamberlain give a presentation on the city's fiscal situation.
"Her presentation made it very clear we've done all the belt-tightening we can do," Lantz said.
Residents and business people are looking for short- and long-term funding solutions.
Already a key point in the long-term strategy for funding the library has surfaces and it involves a parcel tax.
"If people want a library they are going to have to pay for it," resident John Clifford said.
White knights are not going to step up to solve the problem, said Clifford, who is among those looking for long-term solutions.
"Superman is not going to come," he said. "We've got to do this ourselves."
At the very minimum, $1.5 million must be raised to equal the library's services offered during the past two years, including being open four days a week, Clifford said.
He added with that amount of money the community would have to work to secure grants and conduct additional fund-raising efforts to increase the services and programs the library can offer.
Given the chance, Pomona residents will support a measure to fund the library, said Mike Suarez, a member of the library Board of Trustees.
"The kids need that place of knowledge," Suarez said. "I'm sure people in the city will support this ... This is kind of `Scared Straight' situation."
Other cities have used tax measures to support their libraries include Pasadena, a city slightly larger than Pomona.
Pasadena voters approved and twice extended the life of a parcel tax that generates revenue for the Pasadena Public Library.
The measure was approved by voters in 1993 and extended in both 1998 and 2007.
The measure, a special tax that requires two-thirds approval by voters, was approved by more than 80 percent of the voters, said Jan Sanders, director of the Pasadena Public Library.
Tax rates are set for single family homes, condominiums, multifamily properties and for non-residential parcels, she said. The rate for single family parcels is $40 a year and increases annually based on the Consumer Price Index.
"The bulk of our need is personnel," she said, adding that's covered by the city.
Revenue from the parcel tax "allows us to keep our collection current" and fund other programs and services, Sanders said.
Salinas, a city slightly larger than Pomona, also went to its voters to generate money for the library.
In late 2004, after a series of tax measures failed and the city faced financial difficulties, city leaders voted to close the library temporarily in 2005.
The decision "went international," said Elizabeth Martinez, director of the Salinas Public Library.
Residents and supporters raised money allowing the library to open in 2006 on a limited schedule.
A ballot measure was place on a ballot in 2005 calling for a temporary half-cent sales tax. The general tax goes to pay for services such as its three libraries, public safety services, crossing guards, graffiti removal, street and park maintenance, according to the Salinas city website.
The tax, which is the sixth year of a 10 year term, generates the majority of the libraries funding.
"People need a library," Martinez said. "It's a symbol of community and a symbol of democracy."
Lantz said a ballot measure is something that's worth exploring but it will require some research on the part of city staff to determine what kind of dollar amount the city's voters would support.
A measure could potentially be placed on the November ballot but it would require quick action on the city's part.
City Council members have until Aug. 6 to decide to place a measure on the November ballot, said Pamela Perkins, senior deputy city clerk.
The city has until Aug. 10 to get paperwork associated with a measure into the hands of representatives of the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerks office, she said.
The November ballot is one that will have state and local tax measures which could make getting the support of Pomona voters for a library measure challenging.
That doesn't discourage people like Suarez.
"I will definitely be there full guns," he said.
Getting a library measure passed "is going to take a strong grass roots effort," Suarez said.
The challenge shouldn't become a deterrent to pursuing such an option, Lantz said.
"We can't not put it on (a ballot) because we're afraid it will fail," Lantz said.
Pomona Library Director Bruce Guter said with the support of other experts in his field he will develop a plan that will allow the library to remain open as long as possible with the funds allocated by the city.
That could mean consolidating all service on the library's upper level and other changes.
"It's really going to take professional people to figure this out," Guter said.
However, such steps could be some time and give Pomona residents and others time to raise money and take other steps to keep the library doors open, he said.