Support the library, vote ‘yes’ on both A & B

If you want to consider yourself a library supporter, you need
to vote yes on both Measures A and B when the library assessment
ballot arrives in your mailbox in early April.
If you want to consider yourself a library supporter, you need to vote yes on both Measures A and B when the library assessment ballot arrives in your mailbox in early April.

Measure A, if passed by two-thirds of voters in areas served by the Santa Clara County Library system, will continue a $33.66 parcel tax, due to expire in June, for another 10 years.

Measure B, if passed by two-thirds of voters, will add a $12 parcel tax for 10 years.

These measures are necessary because last year, the library narrowly missed reaching the two-thirds approval necessary to approve a new parcel tax to replace the one that’s about to end. The minority dictated to the majority that our invaluable libraries’ hours would be cut and that fewer materials could be purchased.

Why is it critical to vote yes on both measures? Because Measure A doesn’t even fund the status quo.

If only Measure A passes, it means the library will not have had an increase in its major funding source for more than a decade. In the meantime, the state has grabbed funds earmarked for libraries while expenses have increased.

If Measure A fails, expect layoffs, drastic slashes in services and material purchases that make last fall’s reductions look like paper cuts.

Here we are in wealthy, technologically advanced Silicon Valley, yet our county library system can’t even stay open 40 hours a week. It’s shameful.

The first time you have to buy books for your child’s research project that you could have borrowed from the library for free had they been open, you’ll have covered the cost of Measure A and Measure B.

But think outside your own home; consider your community. Think of those who struggle to make ends meet in the Bay Area. Many people on the lower rungs of the economic ladder are feeling squeezed from both sides because, despite the economic downturn that has cost many people their jobs, the real estate market has remained inexplicably strong, increasing housing costs. Add to that the pressure from ever-higher gas prices.

Those living on the edge of solvency can’t afford luxuries like books, magazines, newspapers, CDs, DVDs and Internet access. They count on the library to fill the gap. They borrow movies for free, and books that they cannot afford to purchase. They use the libraries’ computers to find important information on the Web, because a computer and Internet access are unaffordable.

The library provides invaluable services to those members of our community who are homebound and for the blind and hearing impaired. Our library system has been honored twice in recent years as the best public library in the nation.

Even if you never darken the door of a Santa Clara County library (and you’re certainly shortchanging yourself if that’s the case), think of those who depend on its many services.

Think about the $45.66 a year you’ll be spending if Measures A and B pass, and compare it to the cost of a movie tickets, sodas and popcorn, or dinner with friends.

Finally, think about which legacy you’d prefer to leave. You can join Mark Zappa, a local member of the Santa Clara Valley Taxpayers Association, who is already vocal in his opposition to the ballot measures. That side, if it succeeds, will leave a legacy of locked library doors.

Or, you can join library supporters who prefer to leave a legacy of increased opportunity for literacy, for instilling a love of reading, for helping neighbors who struggle with poverty or disability.

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