Library board to discuss levy, book request process

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The Pierce County Library System’s Board of Trustees plans to discuss its restored levy ballot measure, an improved way to request books, and other issues at the board’s meeting at Pierce County Library’s Administrative Center and Library, 3005 112th St. E., Tacoma, on Wednesday, Aug. 8, at 3:30 p.m.

At the July meeting, the trustees passed a resolution to place a restored levy, also known as a levy lid lift on the Nov. 6 general election ballot. A restored levy would maintain Pierce County Library’s services and return the Library’s levy rate to its full legal amount of 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. This would be an increase of approximately 10 cents per $1,000 of assessed property. To the owner of an average home assessed at $320,000 this would be approximately a $32 increase in 2019.

The restored levy would maintain services including open hours at 20 locations and online library resources; 1.5 million books, e-books, movies and other materials; staff to support learning with thousands of classes and events; computers, Wi-Fi and technology; and community spaces.

Without the restored levy, the library would further eliminate and reduce services including the hours libraries are open; the number of books, movies and other materials; and classes and events; as well as close two to three libraries.

Since 2009 to manage its budget, the Library System has eliminated, reduced, streamlined or did not offer needed services and deferred maintenance totaling $20 million.

The primary reason the restored levy will be on the November ballot is because costs to operate and maintain library services and libraries are increasing at a faster and higher rate than revenues. State law limits local governments, including Pierce County Library, to an increase in property taxes of no more than 1 percent plus property taxes from new construction each year.

In July, the Library System launched an improved way for the public to ask for books the Library System doesn’t have in its collection. In the first week people placed more than 500 requests. Librarians review the requests and determine if the recommendations would be an item that many people in our service area might enjoy or whether the item is more specific and primarily for the individual requestor. If it is an item that has broad appeal or meets other selection criteria, a librarian will purchase it for Pierce County Library’s collection. If the item doesn’t meet the Library’s selection criteria, the Library will try to borrow it from another library system through a national interlibrary loan program.

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