Even in this age of digital and online content, libraries remain vital institutions in communities across the nation.
Many are still community gathering sites, and great places to find books or conduct research. But many have changed with the times and are as vital as ever.
Sno-Isle Libraries are among those. They provide friendly spaces where people can get access to computers and digital media, take classes, meet in groups, attend events or even find jobs.
There’s even an online library.
Like most things, however, costs are increasing for the two-county library system, which boasts more than 700,000 users and libraries in Clinton, Langley, Freeland, Coupeville and Oak Harbor in Island County alone. As a result, libraries officials predict a $2-million budget deficit in 2019.
The right solution is straightforward. The district should ask voters within the library district, which encompasses Island and Snohomish counties, for the 9-cent increase in the levy rate, for a total rate of 47 cents per $1,000.
The 9-cent hike represents a property tax increase of $27 a year for the owner of a $300,000 house.
The other option is to make cuts, which could mean reductions in library hours, Sunday closures, cuts in employees or purchases of fewer books and other materials.
Sno-Isle Libraries Board of Trustees is set to make a decision on how to move forward at the meeting Monday.
Taking the issue to the voters gives them the chance to decide how much they want to support libraries. Hopefully it’s enough to pass the modest increase and prevent cuts that could begin to erode the important role the libraries play in their communities.
Libraries of one form or another have served vital roles in civilized societies, and in informing and educating the public.
In the United States, philanthropists such as Andrew Carnegie saw the value in public libraries and literacy and built hundreds of them across the nation.
The role of libraries has evolved and increased in many ways, making their significance and importance more important than ever.