OPINION M26-211: Libraries should serve all residents equitably
There are a lot of pressures on parents and families these days. So many of us are burdened with the same worries: What's happening with schools this year? Our jobs? Older family members? How will so much distance learning affect our children long-term?
For parents, getting help is more important than ever. Managing kids at home in distance learning feels like a full-time job.
I have been a Multnomah County Library cardholder most of my life. During normal times, my kids and I go to the library once or twice a week. These days we're there at least once a week to pick up our books on hold.
My middle schooler uses her library card so often that she has memorized her library card number.
We love our local Gresham library branch, but it feels like everything and everyone is wedged in.
There's a reason for that. When it comes to library space, Gresham is getting shorted. The area east of Interstate 205 is home to 40% of Multnomah County residents. But we only have 20% of county library space.
Last year, I brought my kids to a big, modern library in Hillsboro. I was so impressed at the space they have available there. Places for kids to hang out. A makerspace for hands-on learning. Plenty of room to sit and read and use a computer. Private space for studying.
But here in Gresham? Nothing of the sort. Our growing community has far outgrown our little library.
The Library Bond, Measure 26-211 on this November's election ballot, will finally allow us to build a large, full-service library right here in Gresham. It will be about as big as the historic Central Library in downtown Portland.
It's long past time that we get an up-to-date library here in Gresham with adequate room for local families, jobseekers and community members. Our neighborhood library branch is bursting at the seams. Seating is limited. Computer space is limited. There's not a single small study room for tutoring or quiet reading. It's time to bring our libraries up to date in size and in technology.
In these uncertain times, many families will turn to the library to help put the pieces of normal life back together. Here are some of the ways the Library Bond will help do that:
Multnomah County Library has been a good steward of tax dollars over the years. For this bond, an independent citizen oversight committee will review bond projects and expenditures to ensure funds are used as promised. And there will be annual financial audits.
Join me in this small but important investment. The library bond is the best value on the ballot!
Liz McCann lives in Gresham with her family.
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