On October 5, the voters of Soldotna will be asked to approve a bond issue to be used solely for expansion of our Joyce K. Carver Memorial Library (the Soldotna Library). The amount of the bond issue has been set and will appear on the ballot as our own Proposition 1. I am writing to ask for your support of that measure.
The last expansion of our library took place 20 years ago. Since then Soldotna has grown and population has grown. Obviously, the use of our library has grown.
That 1990 expansion doubled the useable square footage of the library. It allowed for the creation of additional book stacks, additional office and storage space, creation of a children's section and children's reading area as well as modernization to the extent that we added two word processing (computer) stations available for public use.
Today we have outgrown the space created by that expansion. For example, before a new book can be brought in, an existing book has to be taken down. We have had to add 7 computer stations available for the public plus three word processing stations and WiFi accessibility all which take up precious space. The children's reading area has to be shared for events such as author signings and public interest meetings.
And storage? Don't even think about it! Again, these are just some examples.
We simply are out of room and for a very good reason. We -- you and I -- are using the library more with more and more people! Current statistics show that use -- people through the door -- is up to an average of over 7,800 per month and circulation has increased to over 8,200 per month. Those monthly averages increase during the summer months and not just because tourists, etc. are in town. May through August see increases by about 600 per month but many of that 600 are our own students, children out of school, adults with more leisure time and people coming to special events such as book sales, children's reading hours, etc.
To sum this up, we must invest now in additional space to accommodate the growth in demand for the services your library provides that we have experienced in the last 20 years and provide for the growth that we will see over the next 10 - 20 years. Putting it off will be much, much more expensive.
Please vote yes on Soldotna's Proposition 1 and help bring our library into this century. And remember, your library is not just for checking out books any more.
Soldotna resident Ed Sleater is a director of the Friends of the Joyce K. Carver Memorial Library and Soldotna City Council member.
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