The sound of a locked library
May 24, 2012
By The Oregonian Editorial Board
A few years ago, my library closed. The closure was temporary -- the building was being replaced -- and long scheduled, but it left a hole in the neighborhood. A closed library is not just a locked building, it's a message.
This explains something of the impact of the news that the library budget going before the Multnomah County Commission would close the library on Mondays. Coming after the thumping 82 percent passage of the library levy last week, it seemed a strain on the powerful bond between locals and their library.
It might also cause patrons to wonder -- reading makes you wonder about things -- whether the weekly closure is connected to proposals for a separate library taxing district, which could appear on the ballot as soon as November, that could return the county library to its seven-day status.
Multnomah County Chairman Jeff Cogen points out, with annotation, that the county and the library had always warned that passing the levy would not prevent cuts, especially in hours. "We've always been crystal-clear," said Cogen Thursday, "what the impact would be."
Cogen explains that in this economy, he could not support a levy of a size that would keep the library whole. To limit closures, and partly fill the shortfall, the board proposes to dedicate $10 million in one-time-only county revenues to the library.
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