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Truckee Library’s future at stake

Sherry Mays

The fate of the Truckee Library weighs heavily upon voters June 2, and Measure B – “Buy more books” is a matter of life or death for the library, according to its supporters.

“Our library is something to be proud of,” said Ruth Hall, Friends of the Library president. “The library is ours and no one else is going to do this (secure the library’s survival) except us.”

Hall said this election is critical to the library’s success in offering the community well-needed programs, especially for children.

“Children are our future and the library is essential for learning,” she said.

The Truckee Town Council agreed. At the May 7 council meeting, it voted unanimously to support Measure B and the one-eighth cent sales tax that would fund the measure.

“We (the council) unanimously support education for children,” Truckee Mayor Ron Florian said. “We want children to have a library that they can use throughout their lifetimes.”

But children are not the only people who will benefit by the bond. Francisco Pinneli, Nevada County librarian, said the county’s focus includes the business community, senior citizens, and technological support.

Pinneli said a professional consulting firm hired by the county’s Blue Ribbon Library Council conducted a countywide survey to assess library needs. Public opinion showed the most critical needs for additional library

hours, children’s services and more books. Technological support was also a priority.

Pinneli said he won’t accept Measure B’s possible defeat.

“We are losing the chance to encourage children to read,” he said. “We will just limp along without the additional funding.”

Since 1992, the library has lost more than 24 percent of its funding, slashed its hours from 126 to 76 hours per week, lost five permanent staff positions and has decreased its book budget by 89 percent.

Cindy Maciel, a Truckee Family Connection boardmember, said the library has become an important source for parents helping with their children’s early development. TFC meets at the library weekly for storytime, where parents and children share time to help other children develop reading comprehension and parents develop lifelong friendships.

“The library is part of the community support network,” she said. “I don’t know where we (TFC) would be without it.”

It is a mutual agreement. Monies raised at TFC fund-raisers go toward purchasing new children’s books for the library.

“There is no budget for new books,” Maciel said. “We’ve realized we have to be there for the library, like they are there for us.”

Measure B will triple the budget for books if passed.

Currently, the county budgets $500,000 yearly to operate three libraries within the county. If Measure B passes, the one-eighth cent tax will generate more than $900,000 yearly, based on 1997 countywide sales figures.

Pinneli said Truckee’s sales percentages were tallied, and if the measure is passed, Truckee will receive 24 percent of the $900,000 next year. Sales figures will be tallied yearly and will determine Truckee’s percentage.

“We want Truckee’s taxes to remain in Truckee,” Pinneli said. “It is important to remind Truckee voters that a large portion of the taxes generated comes from tourist dollars.”

Hall agreed and said the library has benefited tourists and second homeowners alike.

“People come here for the quality of life and the library is part of that life,” Hall said. “Many second homeowners and visitors borrow books from our library. Many of our benefactors are from out of town and they say they like our little library. With the sales tax, our locals aren’t the only ones funding the library.”

Hall said the library will hire three new Truckee librarians, one specifically focused on the children’s collection. She said providing better selection of best-seller, children’s and reference books is also a goal.

“We want our collections to be really vital,” she said. “It means keeping them current.”

Pinneli said the Blue Ribbon Library Council, appointed by the county supervisors, disbanded with its main objective fulfilled, which was to advise the county on the library’s needs. He said the members disbanded to join in the campaign efforts.

“We would be dead in the water without our supporters,” Pinneli said. “The library campaign is about awareness. We are trying to rally public support.”

He said the tax would continue for five years and then be evaluated for its benefits to the library.

“Five years is a good enough period of time to re-evaluate our effectiveness,” he said. “The library provides lifelong learning and a source for entertainment. Where will children and adults go if the (library’s) doors close? What purchasers will be assessed is nothing compared to the benefits the county will experience.”

Hall agreed.

“How far will this community go to let the library erode before they realize the victims?” Hall asked. “It’s up to us to not let this happen.”

For information about the library, call Hall at 587-5960.

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