A library district will keep them working for us.
Families have lots of concerns these days — keeping our jobs and our health care coverage, raising children and supporting our parents as they age and need our help.
Fortunately, there are things in our community that help families get through their busy lives. One of the best is our libraries.
For kids and families, the library provides incredible resources:
- The library offers more than 17,000 different classes and events for youth each year. Last year, over 255,000 youth participated in library programs.
- Library story times served nearly 120,000 young children last year.
- Library classes for parents in how to teach their kids to read.
- The library’s innovative School Corps program connects students and educators with the resources of the public library — directly serving 48,000 students in the last year.
- Library staff members create materials, gather books and provide support to over 1,500 individual teachers.
- The library serves 26,000 individual children and parents at risk for low literacy and assists in preparing them to start school ready to learn.
- By partnering closely with the six largest school districts in the county, the library is able to ensure that huge numbers of students sign up for summer reading programs. This year, over 100,000 kids and teens participated.
- The libraries provide homework help after school to students, giving them a safe and structured place to go.
The library is also important to everyone, offering:
- Use of computers for those who don’t have them at home, and classes on how to get started using them.
- Help from librarians for job seekers — assistance on how to search for a new or better job, how to interview and how to write a resume.
- Books sent to senior citizens and the homebound — over 200,000 a year!
But because of our roller-coaster system of temporary funding for our libraries, they face constant uncertainty and frequently must cut services, programs, hours and activities.
That is why Measure 26-143 is so important. A yes vote helps create a local Library District that provides stable and adequate funding into the future.
Right now, Multnomah County libraries are only open 44 hours a week — the shortest hours of any library system in the four-county region. They are closed on Mondays and most evenings. This means fewer programs, activities and services for families. Funds for new books have been reduced.
By establishing a Library District for Multnomah County we can:
- Provide dedicated, stable funding for libraries into the future.
- Restore recent cuts and retain these hours in the future — open hours will increase from the reduced 44 hours to 57 hours a week.
- Protect and restore programs, services and activities for children, students, seniors and job seekers.
- Ensure money collected for the Library District cannot be used for other programs. Our library money stays with the library!
Funds for the Library District will replace the current levy, so we won’t pay that anymore. The District permanent rate is limited to $1.24 per $1,000 assessed property value and cannot change. It will begin at $1.18 per $1,000 and only rise over time if needed. The typical homeowner will pay an additional $49 a year above what they already pay for libraries.
The Library District will be accountable. There will be no new layer of government; the Multnomah County Commission remains the Library District’s governing body.
The libraries continue to receive annual financial audits and periodic performance audits from the independently elected auditor. And three independent bodies will continue to review the library budget.
Families have a lot at stake in this election. Few things on the ballot, however, will have as direct an impact on the day-to-day lives of families in our community as a “yes” vote on Measure 26-143. To learn more, visit to www.librariesyes.com. And please remember to vote!