Library campaign begins

Keizer is moving closer to having a public library. After vigorous testimony and debate, the Kezer City Council voted to place the question of adding a fee to the city services bill on November’s general election ballot. It is cost-free to the city to put the question on the ballot in November.

It would have been easy for the councilors to add a library fee on their own. That would be poking the tiger with a stick. The public, especially voters, are in no mood for their elected representatives to add a fee without input from them.

Once a council work session has met to work out how much of a fee to seek and to iron out the ballot title the real work begins. The Keizer Community Library leadership and supporters will have to get out into the community, speak at every group and club it can to make the pitch.

Residents vote to tax themselves all the time—levies and bonds for fire districts, school districts, to name two. At a time of high inflation and economic uncertainty, it will be a big task to get a majority of voters to say yes to a minimal fee for Keizer to achieve what most cities have, a public library.

It is not just to have a building called a public library. By becoming a public, our local library will become part of the Chemeketa Cooperative Regional Library System, joining 17 other libraries in three counties. That will vastly expand the resources available to Keizer residents; they will be able to access the system’s catalogue of products and have the opportunity to order and have delivered books from any of the member libraries to Keizer.

There are those who will not vote for any fee or tax of any kind. Those voters are not necessarily lost on this issue. A campaign that consistently hits the main benefits of a public library can carry the day.

The leadership of the Keizer Community Library has methodically and professionally worked for years to get to this point. A library is not a want, it is a need. The negative effects the pandemic has had on our students is easy to see. The difference between success and just getting by can be directly linked to literacy and education. Reading programs already in place at the Keizer Community Library are aimed at those who need them. Children’s reading programs including one for Hispanic children. Libraries are vital for those who have no access to the internet and those with no transportation. A public library that is a member of the Chemeketa Cooperative Library System will be a major boost to those in the community who need it.

That is worth adding a dollar or two to our city services bill. In the end that is very inexpensive way to have the world of information and culture at our fingertips.