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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Measure P Will Keep Our Libraries Open and Flourishing

It will probably surprise very few reading this article, that I have spent a good portion of my life in libraries--whether it was during my childhood when I went to the public library to hear stories and read on my own. Whether it was during graduate school when I would spend hours going through obscure microfilm looking for information. Or even now, I often have to go through the archives to find out information about what happened in this community in the past.

Unfortunately, in many communities libraries are going the way of the dinosaur. This is ashame because libraries are among the most adaptive deposits of information--as information and its storage has changed, so too has the library, with computers, dvds, cds, and other electronic information storage devices helping to replace card catalogues, microfilm, and simple paper. Today the library looks vastly different from the libraries I frequented as a young child or even as a high school student.

Unfortunately, libraries seem to be among the lowest priorities for fundings from local governments starved for adequate resources. Across the nation, hours and collections have been cut back upon. And while university libraries remain vital out of necessity, public libraries are often in deep trouble.

However, Davis is different as we so much like to think. Davis is one of the few communities that is willing to spend taxpayer money to continue library services. And thus in 1989, the city of Davis was able to rescue the Davis Branch Library by passing a $3.50 monthly parcel tax that enabled the library to expand its hours when other were cutting theirs back, upgrade their book collection as others were cutting theirs back, and improve the service to the children and other area residents.

Now 18 years later, Davis residents have a chance to renew their commitment to lifelong learning in their community. A new parcel tax, Measure P, has been placed on the ballot. This parcel tax will increase to $88 per year which is around $7 a month.

To do that requires a two-thirds vote of the Davis voters. In many communities, that is a difficult threshold to meet, but not in Davis. Davis is one of those rare communities where both library and school taxes pass with regularity.

A vote for the library tax will enable the library to continue to stay open 60 hours a week, with hours every single day, nighttime hours, weekend hours, and Sunday hours. Ensure up-to-date book collections and reference materials. Make repairs to the current facility. Expand the children's book collection, story times, and homework assistance programs while at the same time increasing space available for community groups and other organizations. Expand the Children's and Young Adults' libraries, adding computers, books, early literacy services, and assigning extra staff to focus on after-school programs. Increase the number of computers available for public use. And begin to look at providing library services to South Davis.

In a town where political differences punctuate our daily lives and conflict is the norm, it is important to note that every single elected official from the city of Davis is supporting this measure from Assemblywoman Lois Wolk, to the two Davis County Supervisors Mariko Yamada and Helen Thomson, to Sheriff Ed Prieto, to the five city councilmembers and five school board members, and even the public defender. All of them are listed endorsements for this important measure.

The choice is simply, for a slight increase of around $3.50 per month, you can keep the Davis Branch of the library open and flourishing. To me that seems like a no-brainer.

For further information about the measure or to endorse or support Measure P, please log onto to their website.

The Vanguard will have more information including interviews and guest commentary in the coming weeks as we move closer to the November 6, 2007 election which will include also the School Parcel Tax and the School Board elections. The Vanguard is your source for election information.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting