Levy raise sought for libraries

By Sheryl Stanley

Members of the Cass County Library Board of Trustees want voters to remember that “L” stands for Library.

Dan Brower, assistant director and head of public services for the Cass County Public Library, explained Proposition L is a ballot initiative asking county residents to approve a 12-cent increase to the organization’s tax levy. The measure will be on the April 7 ballot.

“If approved, this will be our first tax increase in 35 years,” Brower said.

He notes much has changed in the last 35 years, including the ways in which patrons use libraries.

“Over 900,000 people visited the library in 2018,” Brower said, which included more than 500,000 checkouts of materials, both physical and digital, almost 40,000 uses of the public computers and 33,000 attendees at library events.

The increased use of computers is one reason to seek a tax levy increase.

“People use the computers for many things, such as applying for jobs and filing taxes,” Brower said.

“We have a number of computers of various ages in our branches. Some are still using Windows 7 as their operating system, which is no longer supported by Microsoft.

Only a handful are Windows 10, the current industry standard.

“We need to be able to update our hardware, as well as increase our bandwidth to adequately serve rural areas such as Archie, Drexel and Garden City.”

Brower said no new construction is planned, but he would like to see improvements to each of the library’s seven branches.

“We want to improve our spaces and make them more comfortable and inviting with new carpet and furniture.”

According to Brower, an increase in the tax levy could also help the library expand its operating hours.

“Right now, none of our branches are open on Sundays. The Garden City branch is closed Tuesdays and Fridays. Archie and Drexel are also closed one day a week.”

Significant funds would also be directed to increasing the library’s overall collection of both physical and digital materials.

“Currently, many patrons are streaming videos and downloading e-books,” Brower said

Audiobooks, he added, are popular with the commuting public. “Almost 70 percent of our circulation is in digital files.”

In addition, Brower said he would like the library to offer more events to the public and particularly, resources.

“We need research tools and training resources.”

The library’s board of trustees, which includes President Becky Klein, Mary Dobson, Barbara Boucher, Roger Toomey and Phil Kohler voted unanimously last fall to place Proposition L on the ballot.

More information can be found on the library’s website, https:// http://www.casscolibrary.org.

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