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OUR VIEW: Libraries are a wise investment


Usually most voters in a town or county can agree there are a few items that deserve a certain degree of financial sacrifice to fund.

Emergency services — such as fire and police departments — stand at the top of the list of community necessities that require consistent funding. Also, what should be at the top of that list of necessary funding priorities are libraries.

Libraries?

That’s right.

Union voters will soon decide on whether to approve a new option levy to raise around $110,000 a year to help fund the town library. We encourage voters of Union to vote yes on the measure.

Libraries are one of those quality-of-life institutions that are sometimes difficult to quantify. The necessity of emergency services is almost always obvious to taxpayers. Police are visible in our community firefighters arrive to the wail of sirens and flashing lights and risk the lives to quench a blaze. Their value is clear. Libraries, though, can often fall under the category of “nice to have but not necessary” for voters.

We don’t believe that sentiment is valid.

Libraries provide a platform of learning and knowledge for everyone. Typically, you do not have to plunk down a large amount of cash to get a library card. You can be of just about any age to participate in the library experience. There are no restrictions on access to vast reservoirs of books, magazines and digital material at libraries.

Libraries say something about us, about our towns, about our goals and how much we value the free expression and pursuit of knowledge. Are libraries as necessary as a police or fire department? We believe so.

Libraries also tell us a little bit about our history. The library in Union is a good example. The Union Carnegie Public Library has been a fixture in the community — in one way or another — for more than 100 years. That means this institution of knowledge has stood the test of time and remained a vibrant element to the community.

The levy will cost property owners about $1.21 for each $1,000 of assessed property value. So, for example, a homeowner with a $100,000 home will pay about $121 per year for the levy. We understand that as a taxpayer it can often seem like government always appears to have its hand on the proverbial wallet. But in this case, the sacrifice is worth it.

We hope that this month as Union voters receive their ballots in the mail, they think carefully about the benefits of a local library. Funding a library isn’t about throwing another sum of money at a community issue. No, funding a library is a community investment, a way to enhance the lives of everyone.