If you think the line at Starbucks is long in the morning, check out the crowds waiting outside the Modesto Library 15 minutes before the doors open almost any day of the week.
And you know what? Everyone gets in, everyone is served, and it doesn’t cost them a penny.
Yes, people of all ages, incomes and backgrounds line up to get inside the library each day. Here, they will search for books, seek information for school reports, use a computer to update a resume, attend a story hour for children, learn a new skill, conduct a genealogy search, apply for a passport, meet with a tutor to improve their reading skills, be entertained and be enriched.
Dozens of innovative programs and services are keeping the library relevant and essential.
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Even if you are not a regular library visitor, you surely understand the importance of libraries in our communities. Libraries level the playing field, making resources available to all and give each member of our community the essential tools they need to make their lives better.
In July, library hours were restored to almost pre-recession levels. Thanks to a gradually improving economy and prudent scheduling, all library branches throughout the county are again open six days a week. Nevertheless, the need for funding continues.
There are number of support groups with “Library” in their names; each has its unique role in supporting the library:
▪ Library Advisory Board – Members are appointed by the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors; they meet with the library director to advocate for the interests of each of the county’s supervisorial districts.
▪ Friends of the Library – Each of the 13 branches has its own group, which raises funds for special projects ranging from reading benches to special programs at their local branch.
▪ Stanislaus Library Foundation – This group provides an umbrella of support to ensure that all 13 branches are funded for programs like Summer Reading.
▪ Save Stanislaus Libraries – With the November election approaching, this group is ramping up its efforts to pass Measure S, the renewal of the library sales tax.
You might be aware that 89 percent of the library’s operating funds for the 13-branch system comes from the dedicated, eighth-cent sales tax which has received continued approval the four previous times it has come before voters. The tax costs voters about $20 per citizen per year. No, that is not a typo. Each resident pays an average of $20, and for that all of us are entitled to enjoy and benefit from the services the library provides.
It’s as simple as this: No tax, no library.
Please say “Yes to S!” to ensure the library’s fiscal lifeblood is secure for the next 12 years.
There is much you can do to support the library. Join a Friends Group, volunteer to help with the Measure S “Say Yes to S” campaign (www.savestanislauslibraries.org). Or attend the Library Foundation’s Authors Garden Gala on Sept. 23 (information at stanislauslibraryfoundation.org). Most importantly, visit your library; see what’s going on and spread the word!
Pat Portwood is co-Chair of the Stanislaus Library Foundation; she wrote this for The Modesto Bee.