|Looking up the wall on the first floor of the NEW Vancouver Community Library|
Here's what really happened — we voted three times. It almost didn't happen.
In 2004, the library received 56% yes votes. Not enough to pass the bond.
In 2005, the library received 59.4% yes votes. Not enough to pass, but enough NOT to give up.
In 2006, someone threw in $5 million of their own money to back the library's efforts. Another generous community member threw in premium property valued at $2 million to build on. Everyone crossed their fingers and another vote was cast. The results came incrementally closer, 63% yes votes.
THAT WAS ENOUGH.
The funds built a fabulous structure on the east side of town, the Cascade Park Community Library, and was the starter package for the main branch downtown.
Happy ending? Almost.
In 2009, the library district went from being conservative to ultra-conservative. Faced with the same economic downturn as the rest of the community, they eliminated 10% of the staff and the equivalent to one day a week of service. The message was clear, we're good stewards of your investment. They also didn't give up.
Executive Director of the Fort Vancouver Regional Library, Bruce Ziegman says, "In the hopes of restoring the hours and improving our book (and other things like e-books, downloadable audio books and music, etc.) budget we ran an operational levy in 2010."
Yes, undaunted, the library went after a levy following 3 bond measure attempts. If successful a 50-year old structure would not only be replaced with a new, more useful, more relevant resource, but it would be stocked and staffed.
People read the ballot. People voted. Other people read the ballots to count them. The outcome of the election remained in doubt until every last mail-in and absentee ballot was tabulated. The local newspaper wrote about the election for a week. The tally teetered and tottered between pass-fail:
August 17 Library levy trailing, but margin 'razor' thinWhat happened? Literacy won.
August 18 Election update: Library levy fate unknown
August 19 Late ballots push levy to 400-plus vote edge
August 20 Library vote nearly a lock
August 22 Reflections on Tuesday's showdown
|Cascade Park Community Library|
"Now we have new libraries in Cascade Park and downtown Vancouver that will be better stocked and serve our communities for decades to come," says Bruce Ziegman.
Fifty years into the future I'm not sure we'll need all that space for books. We'll probably be teaching classes at the library facility on how to repair your Kindle. We'll probably be checking out "Everything You Need to Read in Grade School" as an electronic device the size of your credit card that will project book holograms any place there's airspace.
Hopefully, we'll be consuming more books in whatever format we invent. For now, there's five floors of wi-fi, an in-house coffee shop, and miles and miles of words to, as the new library's interior details (pictured above), to dream, discover, contemplate, enjoy, question.
Of course, with all that wi-fi, the internet wins, too.
In the meantime, I'm happy to pay these taxes.
Photos by Kailynn via flickrSLiDR.
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