BAY POINT -- Longer hours, more computers, increased tutoring programs and a new or improved branch were among priorities Bay Point residents suggested to make their library a better place.
More outreach also needs to be done to make residents aware of the current public library facility, which is open only 18 hours a week and has no weekend hours, residents told Contra Costa County library officials at a town-hall meeting held Tuesday night.
The library branch shares space with the school library at Riverview Middle School in Bay Point. That creates confusion as to when the branch is open to the public, residents said. People are also under the mistaken impression that the library is only for Riverview students.
Other sites in the 27-branch county library system are funded to operate 35 hours a week, and some branches have even longer hours in cases where cities provide additional funding.
During the town hall meeting, more than 30 residents broke up into five groups and brainstormed as to what community priorities they have for the Bay Point branch.
Aubrie Phelps, a Bay Point resident who is president of the PTA at Bel Air Elementary, would like to see programs that would teach children about computers along with more tutoring programs. Ray O'Brien, a board member of the Bay Point Historical Society, wants to see the library open 40 hours a week.
"It is my realistic priority because I don't think we can accomplish a lot of these other things" that residents would like to see, he said.
Terillynn Kopitar agreed, saying there is a need for more hours before other improvements can be addressed. "Then the community could ask for the bells and whistles," she said.
"The county would love to offer increased hours. We simply need to work with Bay Point to see how those would be funded," Chris Brown, manager for the Bay Point branch, said after the meeting. The branch offers tutoring, story time for children, access to a few computers, and at least one community event a month such as a free legal workshop or a crafts program.
During fiscal year 2012-13, Bay Point library users checked out more than 23,500 items. The branch has more than 9,600 items, including books, DVDS, audio books and other materials, available for checkout on its shelves, along with access to inter-library loan programs.
Another proposal pitched at the meeting was to move the Bay Point branch to a new facility where it would share space with the Bay Point Historical Society, have weekend hours and offer increased tutoring help for students.
"Sounds like a plan to me," Debra Mason said.
Residents also addressed what is the most important contribution that a library makes to a community.
"To foster the love of books in children," Phelps replied. "There is something about a library you can't get from home or a Kindle."
But someone also said that the Bay Point branch doesn't really make a contribution to the community because of its limited hours.
Tuesday's town hall meeting was part of an outreach effort launched in August that will continue through Oct. 5 to hear from county residents as to what priorities they have for their branches at a time of reduced financial resources. While library usage at the branches has grown over the years, its budget has been reduced as a result of lower property taxes.
The town hall meetings, along with an online survey and interviews with community leaders, are ways for the library to develop a strategic plan to focus "meager" library resources "where the community wants and needs them," County Librarian Barbara Flynn said.
Contact Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her on Twitter.com/EastCounty_Girl.