If sales tax revenue doesn't turn around by June, researchers looking for unique Gold Rush history will no longer step into the Doris Foley Library to lose themselves among dusty volumes of assessor's records, yellowed newspapers and county maps.
A drop in local consumer spending means the research library built shortly after the turn of the century could close July 1 along with the Bear River Station Library, a satellite branch in South County used by high school students and Lake of the Pines residents, said county librarian Mary Ann Trygg.
"It definitely is in danger of closing if sales tax doesn't come in and it's proving not to," Trygg said. "We'd need close to $140,000 for both to stay open."
Doris Foley carries materials that can be found nowhere else and is said to rival collections housed at the state library, Trygg said. Doris Foley is a Carnegie Library and one of 36 in the state that is still operating as a library.
Of the 142 originally constructed, only 85 Carnegie Libraries are still standing, according to www.carnegie-libraries.org.
Closing the branches is a drastic proposal Trygg put before county supervisors at recent budget subcommittee hearings.
The move will save the county $138,000 and prevent cuts to the bigger library branches where visitors are using free services more than ever because of the recession. Supervisors will host a hearing June 2 to make final decisions on the entire county budget.
Over 70 percent of the county library's budget depends on sales tax, Trygg said.
This year, sales tax revenue is down 8 percent from the same time last year, when sales tax first began to show signs of a downward slide.
Even with the closures, the library would have to tap into $80,000 from its fund balance next year to stay afloat, Trygg said.
Late last year, 15 temporary staff positions were cut and hours were reduced by 23 percent at the three major branches: Grass Valley Library Royce Branch, the Madelyn Helling Library and the Truckee Library.
Heavier usage at the Penn Valley library branch will keep it open for now. For south county residents who live 20 minutes away from the nearest library, the Bear River Station is a resource that will be sorely missed. Some come to use the library's computers, order books through the county library system or check out music CDs and DVDs.
"It is going to be a huge loss for the kids and the residents of Lake of the Pines," said Bear River High School librarian Amy Linden.
"I think our library community is going to be saddened. We just need a benefactor to come along and help us," Trygg said.