By Brian Cameron
It’s that time again, where the citizens of Tillamook County go to the ballot box in order to decide whether or not they want to consider the local library a funded service to the community.
“Its our 10-year anniversary in the new building in Tillamook and I would hope to see the levy passed so we can continue to provide the county with books, computers, services and our expanding programs,” Library Director Sara Charlton, said. “Which are growing increasingly more popular.”
In recent years the prospect of continuing the funds toward the library were thrown into question during the last go-around where the national Tea Party took the narrative and forced everyone to question whether or not they felt their tax dollars were being well spent on anything from emergency services, roads or in this case the local library. That was in 2012 and fortunately the people of Tillamook decided to continue the operational levy and fund the library for another five years.
Which brings us to 2017.
Not looking to expand the budget but to merely keep things going at the same rate as they were the goal is to provide the library with an operational budget of 65 cents per $1,000 on the value of a home. This would be the third consecutive time the levy has asked for the same sum which equates to the rough estimate that if a home is valued at $100,000 then the annual cost is $65 per year, which would go directly toward the library’s operational budget.
“After surveying our members we found that people want us to provide more programs to the community,” Charlton said. “We still offer the same services as always but it’s our goal to allocate more funds toward the programs as they are becoming increasingly popular.”
Charlton cites the recent influx of programs the library offers free to the community as an exponentially growing service the communities of Tillamook County provide to not just inquisitive youngsters but also caters to the minds of adults as well. She suggested they’ve had great receptions toward programs that focus on science, arts and crafts and guest speakers that help make the adult-programs a huge hit with people in the county.
Since last year, the Tillamook County Library has seen a 9.7 percent increase in cardholders with more than 400,000 items checked out and nearly 200,000 individual visitors logged in at the library and that was just for 2016.
Also during the last year there have been a staggering 968 individual programs provided to the community with 13,937 people in attendance at those programs. This suggests a growing popularity for the programs within the community – which range from talks on climate change, scientific experiments and demonstrations, and child related programs that have always been a cornerstone of the services the library provides.
According to Charlton there are a variety of projects she would like to see happen in the future but much of it weighs on whether or not they have the operational budget to function. She would like to see an outdoor park project installed in the grass lawn just west of the main Tillamook branch and would also like to try offering the ability to read and use the library while enjoying a hot coffee or tea, which she said changes the user experience.
“There’s so much I would like to get started on but a lot of it can’t happen if the levy isn’t passed,” Charlton said. “And more importantly I don’t like the prospect of 27 people losing their jobs.”
The renewal of the Library’s operating levy will be on the May ballot and will provide another five years of funding service to the main Tillamook County Library as well as keep the other six locations and the “Bookmobile” in operation throughout the area.