The Sonoma County Library was formed in 1975 through aJoint Powers Agreement1signed by representatives of the cities of Healdsburg, Petaluma, Santa Rosa, and Sonoma as well as the County of Sonoma. The Library is the result of this collaborative agreement, existing as a “Joint Powers Agency” separate from the parties to the agreement.
A countywide library system is a good deal for the people of Sonoma County—it helps save the public’s money by eliminating the need for having administrative services at each library, while giving them access to the rich resources of every library in the county. The cities and the County help by providing the buildings that house libraries in their community with the Library as the tenant.
The Sonoma County Library Commission is the eleven-person body responsible for governing the Joint Powers Agency. Each member of the Board of Supervisors appoints one person to represent his or her district—and the City Councils of Santa Rosa and Petaluma each appoint a Commissioner.
There are nine Library Advisory Boards serving as links to each branch library’s community. They advocate for the Library in each community and advise the Library Commission and Library Director on how to provide the best possible service to the people in their region of the county.
There are also nine Friends of the Library groups—each raising funds and volunteering to assist the libraries serving their communities.
The Sonoma County Public Library Foundation raises funds for countywide library services.
Library service is provided through the Central Santa Rosa Library, 10 regional libraries, and two rural stations in Occidental and Forestville, with assistance from Mendocino County’s Bookmobile service for the far northwest corner of the Sonoma County coast.
Nearly 200 employees focus every day on serving the people of Sonoma County.
Sonoma County Residents borrow over 2.5 million items a year. Nearly half the service population has a library card. Expert reference librarians answer a quarter of a million reference questions annually for individuals, businesses and government agencies. They offer instruction in the use of Library resources in such fields as genealogy, grant seeking, and use of the Internet. During a typical school year, hundreds of classes either visit a library or are visited by a children's librarian. The Library operates an adult literacy program, training volunteers to tutor individuals who lack basic reading ability.
1 In 1975, Cloverdale, Cotati, Rohnert Park, Sebastopol and Windsor were served by the County’s library. They now have their own libraries that are part of the Sonoma County Library.