A sad day for local libraries

With the surprising defeat of the Kitsap Regional Library’s lid lift, Silverdale can kiss a new library goodbye.

The passage of this measure would have been the first stepping stone to a much-needed larger library and potentially the first piece of the puzzle for the Central Kitsap Community Campus. A widespread “yes” vote would have meant much more than a new library for Silverdale, it would have allowed the library to meet increasing demands for the next five years. Any new buildings have now been placed on the back burner as library officials must focus on funding issues. KRL has seen a 67 percent increase in usage in the past six years. More people have been using the library in recent years, but where’s the support?

Our local libraries support our communities through literacy, education and knowledge, but unfortunately that support from the public wasn’t reciprocated in Tuesday’s special election.

The measure was turned down with 54 percent voting against the measure compared to 45 percent in support of the library’s request.

“We were not prepared for this at all,” said library director Jill Jean, Wednesday morning.

She doesn’t view the defeat as people hating libraries, rather, a retaliation against taxes.

“I don’t think people hate libraries, I think this was a backlash against taxes,” she said.

Two things are guaranteed in life: taxes and death. Taxes are a reality and yes this increase would have meant an increase of $18 per $100,000 of assessed property value, but isn’t having a literate community worth it? Securing the future of our libraries obviously wasn’t the priority of the voting public in Kitsap County. But apparently, neither was voting. A low voter turnout didn’t help the library’s cause much. Those who are registered to vote and didn’t in this election either don’t care enough to voice their opinion or figured this measure would pass with flying colors — as many did with not much obvious opposition coming from the general public.

Those who gathered Tuesday evening at the Sylvan Way branch were confident the measure would pass, even congratulating each other beforehand. When the numbers began rolling in, however, the look of shock was a common expression. And why wouldn’t they be shocked. Surely, there are enough educated citizens in our county to realize the importance of supporting the library system. But the sad reality is this measure was shot down by a large margin — nearly 5,000 votes.

For some, the thought of having to pay additional taxes is more dreaded than illiteracy, an uneducated public and less services to help those who may be unable to purchase a book at a local store.

When the library is forced to cut services, none of us will have to ask why.

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