Support the library bond

Letter to the Editor

On Sept. 14, 2004, voters throughout King County are going to be asked to vote on a replacement bond to support the King County Library System (KCLS). Locally, part of the bond money will be used to build or rent a 6,000-square-foot retail space for a library in Snoqualmie, with plans for an eventual expansion to a 10,000-square-foot building when it becomes needed. The bond will cost 8 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. So, for example, if you own a $300,000 home, you will pay $24 a year.

I have lived in the Snoqualmie Valley for over 60 years. Prior to retiring in 2002, I worked for KCLS for 30 years. I also was one of the founding members of the Friends of the Snoqualmie Library, which we restarted a year ago. As a long-term Snoqualmie resident and a life-long library advocate, I believe everyone should support this bond.

What will you get for your money? This bond replaces a bond voters passed in 1988 that expired in 2003. It will be used for your continued access to the third largest library system in the United States: over 4,000,000 books, DVDs, videos, magazines, music, children’s materials and more than 50 online data bases.

Locally, our new Snoqualmie library will cost $2- to $3-million. It will be open more days, more hours and have many more programs, computers and other resources immediately at hand. Even if you don’t use these resources yourself, please consider the value they provide to present and future Snoqualmie families. As a community we should support this bond.

What if the bond does not pass? If the bond doesn’t pass, at best local library services will remain the same. However, it is more likely hours will be cut and resources reduced. It you don’t use the current Snoqualmie library because of the lack of open hours and materials, vote for the bond so you and your family can enjoy the benefits of a truly local Snoqualmie library.

Where will the new library be located? KCLS has a well-defined new library site selection process that they use in every community. This process will begin sometime after the bond is approved. As part of it, they will hold community meetings to get our feedback about where we would like to see the library. They will also work with the Snoqualmie City Council to come to an agreement on a site. If you have strong feelings about where you want to see a library, make them known to KCLS and to your city council and attend the meetings once they are scheduled.

I know from experience that KCLS puts libraries in the population center of a community. In Snoqualmie that center is on the Snoqualmie Ridge, so my guess is that is where the library is most likely to be located. In addition to the population growth, the Ridge is far enough from North Bend that there is no overlap of library services, and the library will not be on the flood plain.

Incidentally, the library bond is a county-wide vote. Our new library is one of 18 libraries KCLS plans to build over the next nine years. KCLS has nothing to do with other local issues such as the middle school, community center or the grocery store. Any attempt to connect the library to any of these other issues is a vestige of politics past and could derail the construction of a new library.

What can I do? Join the Friends of the Snoqualmie Library. Among our other activities this summer we are going to be promoting the bond. We have ongoing projects underway to extend the services offered by both our current and our future library by adding programs and sponsoring activities. We are working on ways to ensure that anyone who wants to come to the library will be able to. As an example: we are hoping to sponsor a shuttle service to provide free transportation to and from the Snoqualmie library for anyone in the community who has need for transportation.

Our Friends of the Snoqualmie Library group is active, committed, growing and fun. I helped form this group a year ago and I have been delighted with what we have accomplished in just one year. In the last six months we have sponsored an annual book sale, a holiday program for children, a teen book swap and we have numerous activities planned for the Snoqualmie community that we believe are entertaining and educational. We have members from every part of the community with a variety of skills and backgrounds, but one thing that we have in common is that we love our library.

The Snoqualmie Friends will meet April 21 at 7 p.m. at the Snoqualmie library. Everyone is welcome, so please come and join us.

Loretta Herman