Monday, August 02, 2010

Letter to Editor: Vote "Yes" to Portage Library Millage on Aug. 3 ballot

From Suzanne Van Dam and Alex Mayer

On August 3rd, please vote YES to the library millage and support one of our most valuable community assets, the Portage Lake District Library. Our library is so much more than just a book check-out service. It is a vibrant community hub.

For young children, our library offers story hours and summer reading programs that get them fired up about reading and ready for school. Elementary students can meet experts from wildlife rangers to authors and can join the summer reading program.*

Middle and high school students can hang out in the teen section, access teen and pre-teen fiction books and magazines, and keep reading during the summer and school holidays. (Research shows that students who read over the summer retain or even surpass their grade level performance, whereas students who don’t read in the summer experience significant drop-off in academic achievement). Furthermore, through inter-library loan, our library offers resources that home-schoolers and public school students alike can use to enhance book reports, science fair projects, and research papers.

But the library isn’t just for children. It also caters to adults, offering art and music venues, book readings, free use of a community room and free access to the Internet. Web access is crucial for many seniors and others on a fixed income, as it allows them to access their email or the Internet, receiving help from library staff and other patrons -- help they would not be able to get at home alone. Evening educational programs offer adults a chance to learn about everything from tax preparation to tree pruning.

In addition to educational benefits, the library also strengthens our community economically. Libraries generate jobs, both directly and indirectly; they level the playing field by giving low income residents free access to information and technology; and they provide free materials and services that individuals would otherwise have to pay for out of pocket. In a recent study, it was found that "Wisconsin Public Libraries are a significant driver of Wisconsin's economy, contributing more than three fourths of a billion dollars to the state economy on an annual basis, and returning a benefit of over $4.00 to taxpayers for each dollar spent, both of which are in fact conservative estimates."

So, on August 3rd, do the right thing -- invest in our children, in our community, and in our future by voting YES to the library millage proposal.

*Editor's Note: Keweenaw Now often promotes the Portage Library special events as well as the Summer Reading Program. See our slide show from 2009 and the recent article by Samantha Stauch about the Summer Reading Program and Portage Lake District Library Community Program Director Chris Alquist.

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