I both support and frequently use the library in Lake Stevens. Unfortunately the plan for a new 20,000 square-foot library was justified by a small Sno-Isle Libraries survey that is skewed to support expansion. The consultant for the survey is the author of “Win at the Polls,” so how can the results not carry a bias?
An example of dubious statistics is annual library visits. Sno-Isle reports 100,000 library visits a year. However, they counted each time the door opened. Someone entering then leaving counts twice so that is really 50,000 visits per year. If someone enters and leaves multiple times, they are double or triple counted! In my experience throughout the week there are never more than 11 library visitors. Even at the large Snohomish library, usually less than half of the 25 computers and about 5 percent of the tables are in use. The child and teen areas are almost always empty.
Americans adore libraries, yet fewer are visiting every year. Only 43 responded yes to Sno-Isle’s question, “Does the community need a new library?” This follows federal and Pew research that shows library visits declining in U.S. despite population growth while online library access is increasing.
The library levy will cost the average household $5,980 over 20 years. A better use of the $17 million is to expand online services and technology instead of an eight-fold expansion of library space that will remain mostly empty.