Anyone who views their taxes as an investment in government services should be satisfied with the return on investment from the Multnomah County Library.
Among the nation's libraries serving fewer than 1 million people, Multnomah County's system is the most used -- ranking first in total circulation, collection turnover and in-library use, according to the 2011 Public Library Data Service report. Among all library systems, it ranks second in total circulation behind the New York Public Library. And the cost per item checked out or renewed is the third lowest among the nation's 10 busiest libraries.
The system -- the main library downtown and 18 branches -- also helps meet a variety of community needs beyond lending books and materials. In fiscal 2011, it provided 303 computer labs for job seekers, hosted 38 financial and employment events, served 98,000 preschoolers and children through the summer reading program and provided free online language tutoring.
To continue to provide these services, the library system needs to renew its operating levy. Voters should approve the request.