Friends of the Point Roberts Library November 2016

If you’re a voter in Point Roberts, you’ve received your voters’ pamphlet and your ballot.

On page 104 of the pamphlet, there is a short argument in favor of voting yes on the new library levy (the writers of both pro and con are limited to a small number of words – we used all but two of ours).

I’ve been working on this project for five years. With colleagues at the Friends of the Point Roberts Library, and with the great generosity of more than 1,000 individuals, we have raised over a half million dollars to reconstruct the Julius fire hall for a new library – almost three times the size of the current library. Costs have risen since we began this project and the Point Roberts Park and Recreation District is now asking property owners to fund a third of the total costs; the donors have already given the other two-thirds.

Whether this community has a new, modern library is up to the voters. Passage of the one-year levy requires 60 percent of the vote. Those of us who have worked so long and hard on this project hope you vote and that you vote yes on the levy.

Why do we care so much?

In part, it is because so many users, fundraisers and donors alike, have life stories in which local libraries have been personally important to them, their families and their friends. I grew up in a time when having books in one’s home was not all that common.

The library had them all, as far as I could tell. And, although they only let me take out three at a time, I was back the minute I finished them to check out three more.

At 6, I had a plan to begin at the As and read every book on the shelves through to the Zs. I never managed it, but I have certainly spent my life in some kind of pursuit of that goal. The kids and grownups who make 25,000 visits each year to our library have or remember similar dreams.

Even as books have been changed by the digital revolution, libraries throughout this country continue to provide access to the ever larger world of information, of stories, of learning, and of companionship in reading.

The increased size in our new library will provide room for that access – space for more than a single internet access computer; space for chairs and tables where people can obtain internet access via library Wi-Fi for their own devices. It will also provide adequate rooms for kids and teens to spend time with books, and a special meeting space which can be used in off-hours for community members to meet and pursue together their own interests in the education that a library can support: book clubs, hobby clubs, specific learning projects, whatever.

If it’s about books and learning, the new library will support it and provide space for it if the levy passes.

A library is not just for the people who can’t afford to buy their own books. Scarcely anyone can afford to buy the armfuls of books that you see little kids checking out on every visit. Plenty of people buy books and stream movies, but the library provides far greater access: to books, movies, CDs, DVDs and magazines for us all.

It is the place in the community where everyone is welcome, where the staff pretty much knows everyone, where we are all equally important.

Like our paved roads, school, utilities and health services, the library is available to us all. Property owners pay for those services through taxes: the price of civic life. But we don’t pay extra to drive on the streets or to go to school or to check out books or to use the library Wi-Fi or to come to a library-sponsored meeting, because these are vital infrastructure.

A Yes vote on the levy is a vote for civic life, a vote for infrastructure, and a vote for Point Roberts.

(Judy Ross, on behalf of the Friends of the Point Roberts Library)

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