Oct. 23, 2012 — The Lassen County Times does not endorse candidates or issues up for election, so this piece should rightly be considered my own personal opinion. I want to make sure everyone understands that.
On Tuesday, Nov. 6, voters are asked to approve Measure W, a ballot measure that will create a $28 per year tax on each inhabitable dwelling in Lassen County. Residents of the city of Susanville already pay this tax.
It’s curious to note an argument in favor of the tax is included with the election materials mailed to county voters last week, but there is no statement in opposition.
As with all tax-increase measures, this one requires a two-thirds vote to pass — a tough, uphill battle even in the best of times.
When I first heard of this measure, I knew it couldn’t possibly come at a more difficult moment — a time when governmental budgets at nearly every level have flipped upside down, awash in seas of red ink and the anti-tax and no new tax mantra of many in the conservative camp loudly echo around every corner. I don’t mean that as a criticism of those folks who have every right to that opinion and their expression of it. I’m just trying to recognize the struggle the library district faces.
Things have really changed since I was a kid, and my library card became one of the first items I proudly stashed in my wallet. I know many other sources of information are readily available these days, such as the Internet, but the library is a depository for all kinds of things that probably will never find their way on to the worldwide web.
Some people may call me old-fashioned, but there’s something special to me about holding a book in my hands, feeling the texture of the cover and smelling the paper. I can’t and don’t get that kind of tactile relationship with a computer screen or a Kindle. Somehow that words-on-a-screen kind of communication doesn’t seem as real to me.
I can remember going to the library with my mom in Chicago and San Diego, but my earliest independent memories of the library begin when I was about 10 or 11 years old, and for us kids a trip on our bikes to the library in downtown Fresno was a sort of Saturday morning ritual (later replaced by impromptu football games on the grass near the traffic circle at Roeding Park).
You never know whom you might run into at a library, and I frequently encountered a large, crotchety old man on a huge walrus mustache riding this beat up English three-speed bicycle with a large basket over the front wheel overflowing with books, newspapers and magazines.
He was none other that Pulitzer Prize winning author William Saroyan, who famously said he liked to live in Fresno more than Paris because he could be anonymous in his hometown. Everyone recognized him in Paris and sought his attention, but in Fresno no one paid him any mind. I wished I’d been old enough and smart enough to have had an intelligent conversation with him. There are so many questions I’d like to ask him now.
But that’s what the library is all about — a place where people, young and old, can go to check out a book, a DVD or read a newspaper, a place where local residents as divergent as a group of completely obnoxious not-yet teenagers and a famous world-class author could wander from the street into a treasure house of information, opinion and more to find whatever they’re looking for and be equally served by a staff who knows exactly where everything is. Pretty impressive, if you ask me.
Now stop for a moment and imagine our town, our community and our county without such a valuable resource — our public library.
All they’re asking us for is something like 50 cents a week. Come on, folks. Let’s save the library for all the future generations to come.
We can never know whom we might meet at a library or what we might learn during an inquisitive adventure.
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