For those of you who didn’t see the story that was published on kitsapsun.com yesterday, the Kitsap Regional Library Board of Trustees has authorized the library staff to begin preparations for a possible levy vote in November 2010.
As explained in the library’s press release, but not in the Sun story, the board will wait until July to decide whether to put a measure on the fall ballot. Board members are especially cognizant of how the economy has affected Kitsap residents, and probably won’t move ahead with the proposed levy if there has been no economic improvement by then.
The library has cut its budget in the past two years and has created a sustainable spending plan for the future. Because of the foresight in budget planning, the library has not been forced to conduct staff layoffs or close branches, slash programs or furlough employees like other units of local government have in the past year.
As a result, the library won’t be coming to voters saying that if you don’t vote yes, KRL will be slashing programs or services. There’s no “threat” of takeaways from the library if a levy is defeated. It’s a pure choice for voters. It’s a referendum on the value of having a vibrant library system for our community.
Are you willing to say yes to a 1 percent increase in your property tax bill to get more library services, more books, more media, better technology, more user convenience, and — of great significance to CK — new library facilities in Silverdale and Kingston and library facility improvements at every other branch?
I’m sure some people will say no. Especially in these tough economic times, people will say no to tax increases. Some will say no because they are financially strapped. And some will say no because they choose to spend their money in a different way.
But some people will say yes because they recognize that library usage is at an all-time high in Kitsap County, just as it is across the country. They will say yes because they recognize that for the cost of one new hardcover book at publishers price they can get free access to all the books that have been published; to CDs and DVDs; to thousands of journals and magazines, popular and obscure, through the library’s subscription databases; and to free wireless internet at all the library’s branches.They can get better services through the library’s web site, and enhance the nine branches that offer library service across the county.
If you ever wonder about the value of the library, there’s a handy calculator on the library web site. All you have to do is fill in some information about how many books, CDs, movies, or other items you borrow from the library each year, and mark whether you use library programs or services. The calculator will compute the value of those things that you get at the library for free.
For Central Kitsap, the ballot question will have special significance. The Silverdale branch library serves the largest population of any branch in the system, yet it’s one of the smallest branches. There is inadequate parking for library patrons there. The children’s area, the bank of adult computers, the magazines, the books and the reference desk are all shoved together in one crammed space. Kitsap’s “right-sized” libraries, have about 1 square foot of space for every 2 to 2.25 people in the area it serves. By this measure, the Silverdale branch is the most undersized library in the KRL system, with 1 square foot for every 10 people in the area it serves.
So what value would you place on a new, much larger Silverdale library located next to the new YMCA on the Silverdale Community Campus?