Lodi considering rolling out a mobile library

When he campaigned for the Lodi City Council District 4 seat, Shak Khan promised he would bring a mobile library to the Heritage District.

While such an amenity has not been approved, by the council or the Lodi Public Library Board of Directors, the two panels have agreed to set the wheels in motion and look into its feasibility.

With the unanimous approval of its Wednesday night consent calendar, the council received information from library director Akiliah Manual Mills about a plan to explore grant funding for a mobile library in the 2023-2024 fiscal year.

“We definitely need a mobile library,” Khan said Wednesday after pulling the item for comment. “We have one library, and everybody knows where it is. But on the east side, we have a lot of students that after school, they don't really have anything to do. We have the Boys and Girls Club, and usually, because of the funding, they had shortened their programs. We definitely need this. I’m looking forward to seeing a mobile library.”

According to Wednesday’s agenda report, library staff began researching the possibility of applying for grant funding for a mobile library van, primarily servicing aging adults.

The deadline to apply for such funding was Nov. 15, but after receiving feedback form the LOEL Senior Center, the Lodi Community Center and several assisted living facilities, it was determined there was not enough demand to justify a proposal, staff said.

However, staff said it a needs assessment, as well as a community asset mapping operation, would be undertaken. The assessments began in November, and will conclude next month, according to staff. Feedback will be compiled through surveys and neighborhood canvassing, recommendations from community partners, and a community forum to be held at the library, staff said.

If another target audience is determined through the process — such as students and children unable to access the Lodi Public Library on Locust Street — and state funding is available in the next fiscal year, then Mills will present a funding proposal to the library board and council.

“This shows you what a council member can do,” councilman Alan Nakanishi said. “Shak was a front on this project, and I’m happy for the support he got.”

Library hours to change

In addition to receiving a mobile library report, the council on Wednesday unanimously approved proposed changes to the library’s hours of operation on its consent calendar.

According to Wednesday’s agenda report, when Mills began her role as new library director in October, staff raised concerns about the facility remaining open after patrons stop entering the library.

This typically happens at about 6 p.m. each day, according to staff.

Library patronage tends to be slow on weekends, especially on Sundays, and no more than a handful of residents tend to use the facility over a seven-hour period, staff said.

Current library hours are noon to 6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, and noon to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.

Effective Jan. 24 — which is the library’s grand re-opening to the public — new hours will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays; noon to 8 p.m. Tuesdays; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays. The library will be closed Fridays.

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