Multnomah County, where I live, has an upcoming election in a couple of weeks, and one of the issues on the ballot is Measure 26-125, which is the “library levy” that will insure our local libraries remain funded; in this way, all branches and services will be continued for the next 3 years. This is NOT a tax increase (in case you are reading this and live in this county and were concerned about that), and it is our fervent hope that this measure will indeed pass on May 15th.
The Multnomah County Library system is the oldest library system west of the Mississippi, and has the largest circulation of any system serving 2,000,000 people or less. It has the largest circulation of any library system in the U.S. other than that of New York City. I could list many of the wonderful services the MCL provides, but some of them are probably similar to services in your own library system, so I’d just like to talk a bit about what libraries mean to me personally.
I remember very clearly the day in elementary school when our teacher took our class across the street and down the block to our neighborhood library branch. We’d been there before for “story time,” but now we were going to apply for library cards, with a “J” (juvenile) designation, meaning we could take out two books at a time for two weeks. I was thrilled and amazed that I could pick out any two books I wanted and actually take them home. The library became my “home away from home” and I spent a great deal of time there during summer vacation each year, mainly because I usually finished my two books quickly and had to go back the next day for more.
Once I grew up I moved several times over the years and getting a library card in my new location was always a “first things to do” priority. My daughter was taken along to the library from the time she was an infant and learned to love books and libraries early on. A weekly visit to the library was a regular part of our lives and still is today.
For me, the library offers a world of information, entertainment and enlightenment I couldn’t afford on my own. I love to buy books and other forms of media, but it’s just not in my budget to do so right now. I borrow books, music CDs, movie and TV series DVDs. I utilize the library’s online services, using their language-learning program to learn Japanese, their free music downloads to add to my collection, e-books, reference materials and more. I search the catalog regularly and place items on hold, having them delivered to my library, where it’s convenient for me to pick them up at my regular visit. I can’t imagine not having these services available. And I haven’t even scratched the surface of all the other services and programs that are offered.
So it’s important to me that this measure passes, for myself and for the hundreds of thousands of other patrons of the MCL.
But what about you? Your library system may not be in a funding crunch currently, or maybe it is. But do you visit your library and avail yourself of its services? Think about becoming a regular library patron today.