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Sonoma County Gazette
Name that Place.
Name that Place.

Name That Place

Surely, You Know It


Jan 23, 2019
by Sarah Glade Gurney


It’s been described variously:

  • Our community’s living room
  • A leader in early childhood learning and school readiness
  • An advocate for inclusion
  • A vibrant hub 
  • A place to work alongside other members of our community
  • A powerful source for social equity
  • Our community treasure
  • An afterschool hang-out where children and teens can sprawl on the floor
  • A well-used resource that continues to serve beyond expectation
  • A pilot for innovative programs
  • The recipient of about 260 donated hours per month from dedicated volunteers
  • The most visited public building in town.

Yes, We’re Talking about the Sebastopol Branch of the Regional Public Library

Photo of the Library entrance by a talented young visitor. photo library FB page.

Information and statistics, proving these descriptors, abound. 

Let’s start with some numbers. Library Commissioner Stephen C. Zollman, recently shared them in his Annual Report to the City Council. In 2018, Sebastopol Library users borrowed over 367,324 items: books, movies, video games, home energy kits, Regional Parks passes, and more. These enthusiastic patrons share about 10,000 square feet with the dedicated staff and volunteers. In comparison, the Petaluma Library topped at 400,681 items in a 26,400 square foot facility; third place Rohnert Park-Cotati circulated 364,953 in a building of 25,000 square feet.

How does a small town of 7,700 come up with that many library users? It doesn’t do it alone; patrons hail from a wide service area that stretches to Bodega Bay and includes Valley Ford, Occidental, Camp Meeker, Forestville, Graton, Bloomfield, and the western edge of Santa Rosa: a population of more like 37,000 people. 

How do so many users fit in such a small space? “At times, it can be difficult to walk through the building,” Stephen admits. “We make every effort to find creative solutions to better serve our patrons by focusing on every square inch of space.”

“To ensure the Sebastopol Library is of the community, by the community, and for the community,” Stephen writes,” Staff are embedded in City happenings in various ways.” Here are a few of their affiliations: the local Gravenstein Health Action Chapter; Sebastopol Downtown Association;  Cittaslow Sebastopol Steering Committee; Non-Profit Networking Planning Group;  the new Sebastopol Teen Club;  andWest County Health Center

the library offers homework helpAdditionally, Staff coordinates services with local schools, the Graton Day Labor Center, Burbank Heights and Orchards, our Senior Center, Center for the Arts, and Community Cultural Center. 

The result: a rich and diverse array of programs, about 50 per month bringing the community information, entertainment, and engagement opportunities. Steven offers these highlights:Social Justice Book Club

  • Girls Who Code
  • Homework Help
  • Early Literacy and School Readiness Classes in English and Spanish
  • Books and Crafts Book Club
  • STEM Storytime Series
  • StoryCorps Project
  • Woke Wednesdays
  • Young Authors Project
  • Financial Literacy Workshop

With so much going on for so many people, our Library is well beyond capacity. “Our branch is one of the busiest in the [regional] system, yet, our facility is one of the smallest. Imagine what we could do with more space.” Stephen has asked the City Council to increase the building’s square footage and to support LANTERN, a local group working to create the library that our community deserves. You can donate here:

LANTERN promotes the concept of a library matching the character and vision of Sebastopol and West County. Such a library would be more spacious, house more books, deliver improved access to ever-evolving technologies, provide more tutoring spaces and work stations, and offer even more programs. 


First, if any of this is new information to you, find out more and participate. Second, express your appreciation to the Library Staff, led by Branch Manager Mathew Rose, and to the many volunteers, for their work and dedication. Get volunteer info here:   Third, thank Stephen for being such a strong believer in our library system and representative for our community. Fourth, donate your time and money to the Library,Friends of the Sebastopol Library, and LANTERN. Lastly, urge the City Council and the County Library Commission to figure out how to expand our building to better serve our future. 



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