Support community libraries

Jeff vonKaenel

Over the years, libraries have been there for us. Now it is time for us to support the libraries. Sacramento's citizens have this opportunity on Tuesday, June 3, when they vote for Measure B.

Measure B puts a $12 per year property tax on residential parcels to support Sacramento city libraries. Commercial property is also taxed. One dollar per month will bring an additional $1.9 million to our 12 city libraries each year. This much-needed revenue will ensure and enhance “after-school reading programs, homework assistance, library operating hours, 24/7 online access, programs for seniors, and other services,” according to the ballot.

It sounds like a no-brainer. Councilwoman Angelique Ashby, a Measure B supporter, pointed out to me that there was no voter pamphlet argument against the measure. The problem is that it needs two-thirds approval of the voters. Requiring two out of three Californians to agree on anything is tough. And when the word “tax” is involved, it’s even tougher.

Community libraries are wonderful. Everyone, regardless of wealth, race, sexual orientation or age, has free access to virtually whatever book or resource they want. Libraries provide neighborhoods with a friendly community-oriented learning sanctuary.

And then, there is the library staff. With very few exceptions, the librarians I have met are devoted to helping their patrons. Not only do they answer every silly question cheerfully, but with an attitude that they are so glad you asked.

The two-thirds vote would be easier if all of us could vote. But, unfortunately, many of those who are most dependent upon our libraries will not be voting, because of the pesky 18-years-and-older rule. When you go to libraries after school and on weekends, you will notice numerous school-age kids working very quietly and very intently on their schoolwork or some project. For many of these kids, the library is a home away from home. And for some, it is a home better than home.

Our libraries communicate an important message: If things are messed up at home, if there is no quiet or no safe place for you to study, you can go to the library. You can do your homework there. But you can do more than your homework. You can have adventures in the books. You can also dream. You can sit at the tables and do your schoolwork just like the college kids are doing theirs. And yes, if you do your homework, perhaps you too can go to college. You can be a doctor or a teacher or a business owner or anything else you can dream of. But first, you have to do your homework. The people at the library will help you. The people at the library believe in you.

And I hope the people of Sacramento believe in you as well. If they do, they will vote “yes” on Measure B.

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About the Author

Jeff vonKaenel
Jeff vonKaenel is the president, CEO and majority owner of the News & Review newspapers in Sacramento, Chico and Reno.