Vote to support your Forest Grove City Library

One of the two measures on your November mail-in ballot is of vital importance to your Forest Grove City Library.

Measure 34-235 renews a serial levy that provides one third of the funding for Washington County Cooperative Library Services. WCCLS is the source for more than two thirds of all library funding in Washington County and fully 70% of the budget for our city library. About one quarter of our library’s operating budget is dependent on replacement of this levy which will expire in June 2016.

The levy will enable continuation of:

  • Library hours of operation.
  • Children’s programs that promote school readiness and keep kids reading through the summer.
  • Purchase of books and other resources.

The current property tax rate for the WCCLS levy is 17 cents per thousand dollars assessed valuation. The proposed levy rate would be 22 cents. Passage of this levy measure will raise your property tax rate 5 cents per $1000 of evaluation. However, Forest Grove’s 1998 Capital bond is being paid off in 2016, and this will lower your tax rate. About 8 cents of that reduction was the part of the bond measure devoted to expanding our library building. In total, we can keep our library healthy with a yes vote and the library part of your property tax rate will still decline by 3 cents.

The proposed levy is the first rate increase requested in 10 years.

A yes vote supports all libraries in Washington County, which we all can use, and it also provides vital support to the library in Forest Grove.

For more information, see the WCCLS website and People for Libraries.

Why Libraries?

People who sit in front of their computers all day pontificating are asking why, with all this information technology, do we still need bricks-and-mortar libraries?

The library is a community center where people go to get good information and entertainment free of direct charge: 

  • It is a place where everyone is welcome 
  • Where they can find a quiet place to sit. 
  • As in other (increasingly rare) ‘third places,’ people visiting the library run into people they know: that helps build community
  • The library has meeting rooms that provide neutral territory for public discussion of public issues. 
  • It enhances life in its community and is a point of public pride.
  • It increases property values in its community
  • It is an inheritance for future generations
  • It is a place to go to help find needed information without being charged and without pressure to buy something. 
  • It is a place where a torrent of information is turned into useful knowledge.
  • The public library building is like a public park for the mind and it is open 12 months a year.  People use it in any weather and the play equipment is amazing!
  • For the have-nots, whose numbers are increasing, public library buildings provide:
  • broadband access,
  • free computers,
  • advice from trained professionals,
  • access to the arts,
  • access to the best of our country’s culture,
  • help learning English,
  • help raising literate children,
  • help finding a job,
  • and access to an economic system that demands they communicate via the Internet.

 More people are going to bricks-and-mortar libraries than ever.  [Put down those Oreos, turn off your computer, see the light of day and visit a real public library, oh geek.]  No other public institution exists for the purpose of providing free information to anyone.

 More background/perspective:

From Dan Duray, “Rescuing the Stacks”, New York Observer, 6/6/2010:

“The public library is the most powerful and cost-effective wealth-transfer mechanism ever invented. Instead of simply ameliorating problems, libraries create opportunity. As generations have learned, the aisle between the shelves is a corridor out of poverty, a bypass around inadequate schools, an expressway that adds momentum to even a first-rate education.”

Will Sherman, “33 Reasons why Libraries and Librarians Are Still Extremely Important”

 Among the reasons:

  • ·         Not everything is available on the internet
  • ·         Internet complements libraries but does not replace them
  • ·         School libraries and librarians improve student test scores
  • ·         Digitization is going to take a while; a long while
  • ·         Libraries aren’t just books
  • ·         The [ebook] hype might really just be hype
  • ·         Google Book Search “don’t work”
  • ·         Physical libraries can adapt to cultural change
  • ·         Physical libraries are adapting to cultural change
  • ·         The internet isn’t DIY
  • ·         The internet is a mess
  • ·         The internet is subject to manipulation
  • ·         Libraries can preserve the book experience
  • ·         Libraries are stable while the web is transient
  • ·         Not everyone has access to the internet
  • ·         Not everyone can afford books
  • ·         Libraries are a stopgap to anti-intellectualism:

“It’s not that the internet is anti-intellectual; its academic roots and the immense quantity of scholarly sites certainly attest to it being a smart medium…

[but] Access to books and theories from hundreds of years of cultural history is essential to progress. Without this, technology could become the ironic tool of the sensational and retrograde cultural tendencies. Preserving libraries to store knowledge and teach the limitations of technology can help prevent the hubris and narcissism of technological novelty.”

More on ‘why the public library?’