Snohomish and Arlington should support libraries

Libraries are fundamental parts of successful communities. They bring information and recreation to all residents — for free. Some skeptics believe libraries are outdated sources of information and that anything worth putting in a school project or work report can simply be found on the Internet. They should be reminded of two things: one, not everything on the Internet is accurate (or has a bibliography section) and, two, not everyone has access to computers.

Plus, books still have their value to anyone who cares about learning and culture.

With that in mind, residents in the Snohomish and Arlington areas should prepare to vote yes on their respective library bond proposals on the Sept. 19 ballot.

The Arlington area has two library measures to consider. First, the voters must decide whether to create a type of taxing known as a library capital facility area. Currently, all library funds come from the city of Arlington. If the proposed Arlington Library Capital Facility Area Proposition 1 passes, the tax base for the library will be extended north and east to the Arlington school district boundaries, west to I-5 and south to NE 164th Street. Since Arlington library users come from all over the proposed area, it is only fair for the costs to be shared throughout that region and not have the financial responsibilities lie solely upon residents in the city limits. Even those who disagree with the new library funding proposal should at least vote for the LCFA so future improvements can be done with little financial burden on all library users.

There is good reason, however, to vote for Proposition 2. The current Arlington library is too small for a growing population. It has 5,200 square feet, eight public computers, no meeting room, 12 parking spaces and room for just 28 people to sit. The proposed library bond would provide for a new library with 21,000 square feet, 32 public computers, a meeting room, 84 parking spaces and room for more than 100 people to sit and read. Additionally, the number of shelved items would increase from 52,482 to 98,000. All of this would be for 39 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value or $78 per year for the owner of a home assessed at $200,000.

In the process for building a new library, residents of the Snohomish area are one step ahead of Arlington. In 1998, they approved a measure that created the Snohomish Library Capital Facilities Area. Now, they too have a proposal to expand their library space and capabilities.

The measure, Snohomish LCFA Proposition 1, would replace today’s crowded, moldy facility with a new library. The size would expand from 9,500 to 23,000 square feet. The parking spaces would increase from 16 to more than 100, the public seating from 22 to more than 100, public computers from 14 to 38 and shelved items from 82,000 to 139,000. Additionally, there are no study rooms in the current facility; Proposition 1 would equip the new library with two. The cost will be about $52 per year for the owner of a home assessed at $200,000.

Penny pinchers who are concerned with finances should do themselves a favor and vote yes on the library measures in the primary. Then they should go to their local library, get a card and start using the items — such as books, videos, books on tape, Internet access and magazines — for free.

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