Cathie Anderson

Cathie Anderson: Despite small budget, Sacramento library wins nod for service

Published: Thursday, Jun. 20, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Friday, Jun. 21, 2013 - 7:39 am

Staff members at the Sacramento Public Library can't boast about the size of their budget, but after recently receiving special recognition from the Library Journal, you just might hear them crow a bit about the bang they give patrons for the buck.

Every year, the library industry's foremost trade publication and Gale research selects a library system from among the 21,000 nationwide to recognize for its service, creativity, leadership and innovation. This year, the winner was Howard County Library System in Maryland, which has a budget that allows it to spend $67 for each of its cardholders.

This budget is almost three times as much as the $25 that Sacramento has to spend, yet library director Rivkah K. Sass, her staff and their volunteers received a special mention from the Library Journal for their "service philosophy and dedication to community." Only Sacramento and one other library got such a special mention.

Amy Calhoun, the electronic resources librarian, said their nomination emphasized programs such as community writing workshops, their summer reading programs and their adult literacy work.

"We have two staff in our adult literacy center, but other than that, it's completely volunteer-run," Calhoun said. "All the tutors who meet with people for ongoing, regular reading and tutoring are volunteers, so it's a very good return on investment when you're thinking that they're teaching people how to read, something that will benefit them for the rest of their lives."

The richest library systems in the nation spend an average of $67.78 cents per capita, while the poorest have just $15.99 per cardholder.

Bakers take the cake

Bakers Daniel and Meghan Jimenez of Elk Grove's Above and Beyond Cakes know the difference a year can make.

The couple had been sculpting and decorating cakes for friends and family for 10 years. Meghan Jimenez's steady hands had created cowboy boots, hamburgers with fries, automobiles, Power Rangers and more.

Then friends of family and friends of friends began requesting cakes, and the Jimenezes knew they could no longer do the baking out of their home. By 2011, Daniel had quit his job as a construction project manager, and the couple were leasing space in a commercial kitchen.

That worked for only one year. Word spread as more and more people saw and tasted Meghan's creations. The couple searched for a site they could lease full time, and in March of last year, they opened their bakery at 9372 Elk Grove Florin Road. They now have three part-time employees.

A dejected Tim Harper found an empty display when he popped by last week. "No cupcakes?" he asked.

Harper left only after the Jimenezes promised him cupcakes by 4 p.m. "I'm absolutely insane for their stuff because they're so good," he told me. "They're moist. They have great texture. Their flavors are really intense but not overbearing."

This just in …

Shirley Johnson and her siblings have sold the Townhouse Lounge in midtown Sacramento to a group of five investors led by Charlie Coyne. Coyne, of course, is the owner and general manager of the Delta King. "We were kinda happy that it was out of our hands," said Johnson, whose father, Frank Torres, ran the restaurant for many years. "But at the same time, the Townhouse had been there for so long that we hated to see it go." Coyne wasn't available Wednesday for a comment. The restaurant's sign came down this week, and word is the place will get a new name: Starlight.

Call The Bee's Cathie Anderson, (916) 321-1193. Back columns, www.sacbee.com/anderson. Follow her on Twitter @cathiea_sacbee.

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